President Biden will make a last-second pitch to House Democrats on Thursday to support agenda-fulfilling legislation, even though lawmakers and White House aides are still hashing out details about several major policies.
Biden, who is scheduled to depart for international summits in the afternoon, is expected to attend the House Democrats’ meeting in the basement of the Capitol to provide an update on the party’s legislation to address social safety net programs and climate change, according to sources familiar with the plan. He will also urge them to support a $1 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure effort.
After the meeting on the Hill, he will return to the White House and deliver remarks on “the path forward for his economic agenda and the next steps to getting it done,” according to a White House official.
Biden will face a restive group of House Democrats. While some are expecting Biden to announce a framework deal, several key Democrats have not yet expressed support. Several major policy areas remain unresolved, including how the climate crisis will be addressed, whether Medicare will be allowed to negotiate prices on prescription drugs and whether Medicare will be expanded to include vision, hearing and dental benefits.
Progressives are concerned about the bill’s move to the right to appease Senate Democratic centrists Joseph Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. In recent days, Manchin has vetoed paid family and medical leave, as well as a climate program that would have encouraged utilities to increase their use of renewable energy through a combination of payments and fines. Sinema’s opposition to Medicare negotiating prescription drug prices has left that policy in limbo.
Progressives have blocked a House vote on the infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote, until they are assured that a strong social spending package will also win approval. Several progressive leaders said Wednesday they would not vote for the infrastructure bill until they see legislative text on the social spending bill, which is being considered in a process known as reconciliation that can avert the dangers of a filibuster by Senate Republicans. They also want assurances that Sinema and Manchin will support the spending plan.
“We need to get the legislative language written so that we are very sure that there’s no misunderstandings from anybody about what we’re agreeing to,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairperson of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
After months of negotiation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is eager to wrap up the negotiation. On Wednesday, she asked the House Rules Committee to start the process of setting up a vote on the infrastructure plan.
Times staff writer Chris Megerian contributed to this report.
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