White House to host lawmakers as negotiations over agenda hit critical stage

White House to host lawmakers as negotiations over agenda hit critical stage
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President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE hosted lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday as Democrats raced to find an agreement on a sweeping climate and social spending package including much of his domestic agenda.

“The president will have more members down here today. He could certainly have more members down here tomorrow,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiAustralia joins US in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Biden Supreme Court study panel unanimously approves final report White House: Biden would veto GOP resolution to nix vaccine mandate MORE told reporters at a briefing Tuesday morning before the meeting. 

“He has flexibility in his schedule to ensure that he can make those calls, he can invite people into the Oval Office,” she added. “Obviously this is a top priority to keep moving his agenda forward in advance of his trip.”

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The White House subsequently said members of the Tri-Caucus, Women’s Caucus and LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus would meet with White House senior staff.

The meetings came two days before Biden is scheduled to depart for the second overseas trip of his presidency. Biden has said his preference is for lawmakers to come to an agreement on the spending package before he leaves on Thursday, but it’s unclear whether that will happen. 

The White House has sought to manage expectations, saying that Biden is prepared to engage with lawmakers and staff on his domestic agenda even while in Europe.

“I would also say that there are phones on Air Force One and also in Europe,” Psaki said Tuesday. “He will continue to be engaged even as we move to the trip.” 

Biden is slated to stop first in Rome to meet with Pope Frances and attend a Group of 20 summit, before traveling to Glasgow, Scotland, to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Biden has communicated to lawmakers that a deal on the package is especially important as he heads to the Glasgow summit, where he will look to rally the international community behind confronting climate change.

“I think what the allies are looking at is the effort President Biden has undertaken to design and now negotiate an ambitious, effective, practical set of investments in climate, clean energy, in infrastructure, in economic growth in the United States,” White House national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanBiden tries to tamp down tensions with Putin call Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill Biden to speak Thursday with Ukrainian president after call with Putin MORE told reporters.

“They also recognize that the United States has a set of democratic institutions, has a congress, that this is a process, that it needs to be worked through,” he said. “I believe that whether there is a deal this week or whether the negotiations continue, there will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the effort the president is undertaking right now.”

Among those who attended were Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairwoman Judy ChuJudy May ChuDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal White House to host lawmakers as negotiations over agenda hit critical stage First senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid MORE (D-Calif.), Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Warnock: 'True justice' is a Black man not having to worry about being killed while jogging Biden: Guilty verdicts in Arbery case 'not enough' MORE (D-Ohio), Equality Caucus Chair David CicillineDavid CicillineLawmakers call for investigation into proposed AT&T WarnerMedia, Discovery merger Democratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal House votes to censure Gosar and boot him from committees MORE (D-R.I.), Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Raul RuizRaul RuizDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill White House to host lawmakers as negotiations over agenda hit critical stage MORE (D-Md.), and Reps. Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceBiden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Gosar faces increasing odds of censure on House floor CBC's pivotal role on infrastructure underscores caucus's growing stature MORE (D-Mich.) and Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierSpeier endorses California Democrat in race to replace her War of words escalates in House GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE (D-Calif.). White House advisers Susan RiceSusan RiceAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Biden administration, stakeholders to host interagency event on economic equity Black Caucus pushes for priorities in final deal MORE, Brian DeeseBrian DeeseBiden says 'consumer spending has recovered' to pre-pandemic levels The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice Democrats optimistic as social spending bill heads to Senate MORE and Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondBiden should seek some ideological diversity Biden says 'consumer spending has recovered' to pre-pandemic levels Build Back Better is a 21st century New Deal MORE also attended.

The president is also scheduled to campaign with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) later Tuesday evening, a week before the election. 

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As of Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers were still haggling over details of the spending package that they intend to pass without Republican support through budget reconciliation. 

Democrats had initially pitched a package with a $3.5 trillion price tag, though they are working to bring the cost down in order to satisfy concerns of moderate Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin warns about inflation as Democrats pursue Biden spending bill Overnight Health Care — Biden mandate faces Dem resistance Exporting gas means higher monthly energy bills for American families MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaManchin warns about inflation as Democrats pursue Biden spending bill Minimum tax proposal drives wedge between corporate interests Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (D-Ariz.). There are also substantive disagreements over provisions in the bill, including how to pay for it.

There is talk about a second climate provision — a fee on methane emissions from oil and gas development — potentially being eliminated from the package, though lawmakers have said it is still on the table. 

After Biden disclosed last week that his proposal for a paid leave program had been reduced from 12 weeks to four weeks, there are reports about the program being on the chopping block.

Psaki declined to say Tuesday whether Biden would support a reconciliation package without paid family leave. 

“I’m not going to litigate that from here,” she said, noting that Biden initially proposed 12 weeks while stressing the need for compromise to reach an agreement on the package.

Marty Johnson and Scott Wong contributed. Updated at 4:46 p.m.