Biden goes on offense as economic agenda teeters
President Biden arrived at Capitol Hill Friday to try and salvage his fragile economic agenda. However, fellow Democrats were critical of the delay in getting involved in the negotiations process.
Some said that the meeting between Mr. Biden, the House Democratic caucus and him was long overdue. The delay by Mr. Biden in reaching out rank-and-file members was a source of frustration for Democrats.
While the party went to war with each other over Mr. Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion expansion of the social safety net, he remained quietly working behind the scenes with key lawmakers in both the House and Senate.
Despite all the private diplomacy, Biden could not resolve the impasse between Democratic centrists in the Democratic party and progressives regarding his agenda. California Democrat Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, had to postpone a vote on Thursday regarding the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
Some are wondering if Mr. Biden should use the bully pulpit in the presidency to encourage Democrats to work together to get his bills passed.
” I’m surprised that we haven’t heard more from him through public remarks,” stated Doug Heye, a Republican strategist. “This is the time presidents should be taking their hands off of the scale. A five-minute speech will guarantee media coverage .”
But Democratic strategist Brad Bannon stated that Mr. Biden’s plan for focusing on key Hill players rather than making his case directly to the American people was the right decision at this point.
“This is the big story on the news so there is plenty of publicity and the president couldn’t make this fight any more visible in the media,” Mr. Bannon said.
Despite this, Democrats have criticised the president for taking too long to reach out to more lawmakers.
House Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (Washington state Democrat) said that the president should have engaged in “sooner” on reconciliation bills.
Rep. Debbie Dingell, Michigan Democrat, griped that Mr. Biden was focused on key Democratic centrists in the evenly divided Senate while ignoring the more numerous progressives and other factions that could deny him a major victory.
“I think he needs to talk to more senators,” she said to MSNBC.
Ms. Dingell stated that the White House was sending mixed signals about what the president wants lawmakers to do.
While lawmakers fought, Mr. Biden kept his distance from the public. This week, he only made two public appearances.
On Monday, he received his COVID-19 booster shot and briefly answered questions from reporters. Two days later, he appeared at the Congressional Baseball Game and handed out ice cream bars.
Mr. Biden cancelled a planned trip in Chicago to promote vaccine mandates. He did so to be close to the Washington talks and to meet with Democratic leaders.
Mr. Heye stated that cancelling the trip was not a good idea because Mr. Biden could have spoken with these leaders via phone from Air Force One.
If you’re going to cancel the trip, it must be more than just a few private meetings or going to the ballgame.” he stated.
Mr. Biden, who spent more than three decades in the Senate before becoming vice president in 2009, met with Ms. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, at the White House Wednesday. He met Tuesday with Sens. Joe Manchin (West Virginia Democrat) and Krysten Sinema (Arizona Democrat), are two centrists who disagree with his economic proposals.
White House press Secretary Jen Psaki has defended the White House’s strategy of private negotiations. She stated that the president should unify his party against a hostile, united Republican Opposition.
” Anyone who has been through a legislative battle before knows that negotiations and dealmaking always happen at the end.” she said to reporters Friday. It doesn’t matter how long the process takes , it doesn’t really matter how complicated. It always ends at the end
Some see the White House’s visit to Capitol Hill as an acknowledgement that Mr. Biden needs to be more aggressive in order to achieve the economic goals he has set for himself ahead of the 2022 Midterm Elections.
“This is an extraordinary step for the president to make the trip down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Mr. Bannon said. It does emphasize the importance of the package but also his presidency. A lot of his agenda is riding on passage and he‘s going the extra mile.”
The White House is making a strategy shift with the Capitol Hill visit. Ms. Psaki informed reporters Friday that the president will be traveling to an undisclosed country next week to present his economic agenda directly to Americans.