President Joe Biden on Saturday acknowledged frustrations as Democrats strain to rescue a scaled back version of his $3.5 trillion government overhaul plan and salvage a related public works bill after frantic negotiations failed to produce a deal.
Biden told reporters before leaving the White House for a weekend stay at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, “Everybody’s frustrated, it’s part of being in government being frustrated”.
According to lawmakers in the room, he discussed a $1.9 trillion to $2 trillion-plus price tag for the larger package that would expand the country’s social safety net.The White House and its allies in Congress are prepared for protracted negotiations.
Biden said Saturday, adding, “I believe that when the American people are aware of what’s in it we’ll get it done.”It’s a pivotal time for Biden and the party. His approval ratings have dropped and Democrats are restless, eager to deliver on his signature campaign promise of rebuilding the country.
A broader deal, prospects for a vote on the companion public works bill stalled out as progressives refused to commit until senators reached agreement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told colleagues that “more time is needed” as they shape the broader package.
The House on Friday night passed a 30 day measure to keep transportation programs running during the stalemate, essentially setting a new deadline for talks, Oct. 31.
“Out of respect for our colleagues who support the bills and out of recognition for the need for both,” Pelosi said in a letter Saturday to House Democrats that she would not bring the smaller measure “to the floor to fail.”
The House has already acted, but Republicans senators have indicated they will not provide votes for bipartisan passage and want Democrats to go it alone. “We will and must pass both bills soon,” Pelosi said in her letter. “We have the responsibility and the opportunity to do so. People are waiting and want results.”
The White House and Democrats also are focusing on raising the nation’s borrowing limit before the United States risks defaulting on its obligations a deadline the Treasury Department estimates will be reached no later than Oct. 18.