Biden says his economic agenda ‘should have passed before Election Day’

President Biden said Wednesday that he wished his Build Back Better agenda had passed Congress before elections were held the day before, when Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost the Virginia gubernatorial race to Republican Glenn Youngkin.

“I think it should have passed before Election Day, but I’m not sure that I would be able to have changed the number of very conservative folks who turned out in the red districts who were Trump voters, but maybe, maybe,” Biden said at the White House when asked if McAuliffe would have won if Democrats’ massive social spending bill had cleared. 

“I know we did,” he responded to NBC News chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker when she pointed out he won Virginia by 10 points last year. “But … I was running against Donald Trump.” 

The White House released a new framework last week for the $1.75 trillion package, which was scaled down from $3.5 trillion in an effort to get centrist holdouts on board but still included funding for climate initiatives and money to expand programs around child care, education and health care.

“What I do know is, I do know that people want us to get things done. They want us to get things done, and that’s why I’m continuing to push very hard for the Democratic Party to move along and pass my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better bill,” Biden said on Wednesday. 

The president argued that people are “upset and uncertain about a lot of things,” mentioning COVID-19, schools, jobs and the price of gasoline.

“And so, if I’m able to pass and sign into law my Build Back Better initiative, I’m in a position where you’re going to see a lot of those things ameliorated quickly and swiftly. So that has to be done,” he said. 

The president said he called McAuliffe to congratulate him on his campaign on Wednesday after arriving back at the White House from a trip to the United Kingdom.

“Yesterday reminded me of one of the sacred rights we have is to be able to cast our votes. And remember that we all have an obligation to accept the legitimacy of these elections,” Biden said. “[McAuliffe] got 600,000 more votes than any Democrat ever has gotten.” 

He added, “No governor in Virginia has [ever] won when he or she’s of the same party as the sitting president.” 

In Virginia, the president’s party has lost 11 out of the 12 past governor’s elections, and McAuliffe’s win in 2013 under former President Obama was the lone exception.

—Updated Thursday at 11:28 a.m.

Tags 2021 2021 election 2021 elections Barack Obama Biden infrastructure Build Back Better Build Back Better Act Build Back Better agenda Donald Trump election 2021 Glenn Youngkin human infrastructure Joe Biden social spending Terry McAuliffe Virginia

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