by Lisa Mascaro and Alan Fram
WASHINGTON (AP) — With his government at stake, President Joe Biden appeared unable to strike swiftly on Wednesday night with two staggering Democratic senators seeking to trim back his potentially historic $3.5 trillion measure. who were trying to collapse without their support.
With Republicans vehemently opposed and no Democratic votes left, Biden canceled a trip to Chicago to focus on COVID-19 vaccinations, so that he could dig in for a full day of intense talks ahead of crucial votes. can do. Aides went to Capitol Hill for talks, and the late pro-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Biden at the White House.
The risks were clear, but so was the potential reward as Biden and his party reached for a colossal legislative achievement — with an ever-thinning majority in Congress promising a vast rewrite of the country’s balance sheet. His idea is to essentially raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and use that money to expand government health care, education and other programs – an effect that will be felt in countless American lives.
“We take it one step at a time,” Pelosi told reporters.
Attention is focused on West Virginia’s censor Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kirsten Cinema, centrist Democrats. They share a concern that the overall size of Biden’s plan is too large, but have angered allies by not making any counter-proposals public.
In a potentially ominous sign, Manchin sent a fiery statement late Wednesday, describing the widespread spending as “fiscal insanity” and warning he would not get his vote without adjustments. “I cannot – and will not – support the trillions in spending or all-or-nothing approach,” he said.
Together, the two senators have the key to opening the impasse on Biden’s broader vision, the heart of his campaign pledge. Although neither of them has said no to a deal, they haven’t indicated yes yet — but according to a person familiar with the private negotiations, they did attend the specifics and were named to discuss them. Do not allow printing.
Manchin appears to have fewer questions about the revenue side of the equation – higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy – than spending plans and specific policies, particularly those related to climate change for his coal-focused state. are important. He wants any expansion of aid programs for Americans to be based on income needs, not just for everyone.
Although Cinema has been less open to the public in her views, she focuses her questions on a menu of tax options, including an increased corporate rate, which some in the business community argue will drive the US overseas. Can make you less competitive and the personal rate that warns others may be small business owner.
In line with the Democrats’ campaign promise, Washington State Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said of Munchkin: “They either need us to make an offer or it’s not going to be the whole thing.”
Pelosi suggested she could postpone Thursday’s vote on the related $1 trillion public works measure that Munchkin, cinema and other centrists want, but not until there is movement on Biden’s comprehensive package. Progressives are threatening defeat.
Thursday’s vote has been seen as a pressure point on senators and other centrist lawmakers to sign a deal with Biden. But with Munchkin and cinema, it seemed impossible.
According to a readout of the president’s meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, “both bills are priorities.”
At the same time, Congress is beginning to address a more immediate crisis, one that prompted Republicans to raise the nation’s debt limits to keep the government funded during last Thursday’s fiscal year and avoid a dangerous default on lending. for the refusal to ratify the law.
Democrats are separating the government funding and debt ceiling vote into two bills, one closer to the October deadline, separating the more heated debate over debt limits for another day.
The Senate is set to vote Thursday on whether to provide government funding to survive the federal shutdown, with operations tentatively running until December 3. The House is expected to follow suit expeditiously.
With Biden and his party achieving a signing policy feat, there is a strong sense that progress is being made on the bigger bill, said an administration official who requested anonymity to discuss private talks.
The president is meeting separately with Munchkin and cinema at the White House this week and on the phone with lawmakers shaping the package. He also showed up at Wednesday evening’s annual congressional baseball game, a gesture of goodwill during a rare bipartisan event between lawmakers.
To reach agreement, Democrats are willing to trim tax proposals for the giant Biden measure and the spending targets Manchin and Cinema are seeking to reach an overall size.
“I think it’s pretty clear that we’re in the middle of a conversation and everyone has to give a little bit,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Saki said that members of Congress are “not the flowers of the wall” but have a range of views. “We listen, we engage, we negotiate. But ultimately, there are strong perspectives and what we’re working to do is a compromise.”
In addition to senators, Biden’s problems with fellow Democrats include a small number of centrist House Democrats, who are also working on the far-reaching scope of his domestic agenda, which would expand health care, education and climate change programs, All will be paid for. high tax rates.
Progressive lawmakers have warned against cutting too much, saying they have already reached a substantial settlement, and threatened to halt support for fellow $1 trillion public works, which they say is Biden’s big package. Without assurance of very little.
But centrists warned of canceling Thursday’s vote “as a breach of trust that will slow the pace of progress moving forward in delivering the Biden agenda,” said Representative Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., of Centrist Blue. A leader of the Dog Democrats.
Republicans are opposing Biden’s larger approach, viewing the $3.5 trillion package as a slide toward socialism and a government intrusion on Americans’ lives.
Biden insists the price tag would be virtually zero because the expansion of government programs would largely be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy — businesses that make more than $5 million per year, and $400,000 per individual. year, or earn more than $450,000. couple
The House voted on Wednesday to extend the debt limit until Dec. 16, but it remains doubtful that the Democratic bill will pass the Senate in the face of GOP opposition — putting that debate on hold for another day.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has told Congress she has until October 18 when her department will end all of its “extraordinary measures” being taken to avoid defaulting on government obligations.
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Marie Claire Jalonik, Kevin Freaking, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.