Biden hails ‘historic’ deal, urges support
President Biden on Thursday defended his social spending framework while attempting to sell the public on a pared-back economic agenda, even as a number of congressional Democrats appear uncertain about support for his plan.
Biden, in a speech from the East Room after meeting with House Democrats, hailed what was included in the newly unveiled $1.75 trillion social spending and climate plan, calling the slimmed-down framework a compromise that reflected the realities of democracy.
“No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s what compromise is, that’s consensus, and that’s what I ran on. I’ve long said compromise and consensus are the only way to get big things done in a democracy, important things done for the country,” Biden said during remarks at the White House.
“I know it’s hard. I know how deeply people feel about the things that they fight for. But this framework includes historic investments in our nation and in our people,” he added.
Shortly after his remarks, former President Obama released a statement calling the framework “a giant leap forward,” acknowledging it “doesn’t contain everything that the President proposed and that some had hoped” but “represents the best chance we’ve had in years to build on the progress we made during my administration and address some of the most urgent challenges of our time.”
Biden framed passage of the new plan as a matter of critical importance to ensure the United States does not fall behind other developed nations on education, infrastructure or economic productivity. But he stopped short of laying out a timeline or calling on Congress to pass the reconciliation bill or a bipartisan infrastructure bill immediately.
He argued investments in health care, child care and family care would be a boon to working Americans worried about caring for their parents and children. And he hailed investments in electric vehicle credits and clean energy as potentially transformative in the fight against climate change.
“These are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything else that pits Americans against one another. This is about competitiveness versus complacency,” he said. “It’s about leading the world or letting the world pass us by.”
He argued that the framework will create millions of jobs and grow the economy, and that it’s fully paid for and will over time reduce the deficit, citing economists.
“For much too long, working people of this nation and the middle class in this country have been dealt out of the American deal. It’s time to deal them back in,” he said. “I ran for president saying it was time to reduce the burden on the middle class … that’s why I wrote these bills in the first place and took them to the people.”
The president said he will have more to say on the framework following his meetings in Europe over the next week. He is expected to leave Thursday afternoon after the remarks for his trip to Europe to attend the Group of 20 summit and an international climate conference.
Biden did not take shouted questions from the media following his remarks, telling reporters, “I’ll see you in Italy and in Scotland.”
While Biden touted that he and Democrats had agreed upon a “historic” framework, many Democrats on Capitol Hill were noncommittal about support for the plan after it was revealed.
“Clearly to my mind it has some major gaps in it,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said, pointing to the absence of a plan to lower prescription drug prices and a paid family leave program.
Some House progressives, like Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), indicated they were not swayed to back a bipartisan infrastructure bill based on Biden’s remarks. Instead, they still want to see the final text of the reconciliation package so the two items can pass together.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), whom the White House has spent weeks courting to back the reconciliation package amid concerns about spending, would not outright say they would vote for the framework.
Biden went to Capitol Hill and met with lawmakers for about an hour on Thursday to sell the framework to Democrats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democrats after the meeting that she will bring the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor later in the day.
Progressives have held up the Senate-passed bill for months, demanding a vote on the larger social spending and climate plan. In his meeting with Democrats, Biden stepped up the pressure on the party to pass his agenda before his trip, telling them, “The rest of the world wonders whether we can function.”
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