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Progressives Balk At Biden’s $1.75T Framework, Stop Vote On Infrastructure

babbling biden

U.S. President Joe Biden was dealt a setback on Thursday as the House of Representatives abandoned plans for a vote on an infrastructure bill with progressives seeking more time to consider his call for a separate $1.75 trillion plan for climate measures, preschool, and other social initiatives.

Biden had sought to unite his party behind the climate and social spending plan with personal appeals on Thursday and had pressed for a Thursday vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, another main plank of his agenda.

He hoped a framework on the larger measure would convince progressive House Democrats to support the infrastructure bill, but their insistence that the two move together led House leaders to abandon a planned vote, leaving Biden empty-handed.

“We have a historic economic framework” that will create jobs and make the United States more competitive, Biden said after a last-minute trip to Congress to enlist progressives’ support. He then departed for a summit of leaders from the Group of 20 countries and global climate talks.

He left behind a U.S. Congress bubbling with conflicts and unanswered questions, but one that seemed to be inching towards votes on his economic agenda, perhaps within days.

How, exactly, it could come together remained a puzzle.

“Dozens of our members insist on keeping both bills linked and cannot vote only for one until they can be voted on together,” Representative Pramila Jayapal, a leader of House progressives, said in a statement.

The fight over $2.75 trillion in spending that could shape the U.S economy for years to come will play out in coming days with Biden, who has been heavily involved in negotiations, thousands of miles away. He won’t return to Washington until Wednesday.

In a meeting with House Democrats on Thursday, Biden pleaded for their support, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“I need you to help me; I need your votes,” the person quoted Biden as saying. “I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate (Democratic) majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week.”

The White House said Biden’s agenda was still on track, even if it was moving through Congress more slowly than the president might wish.

“We’re confident that soon we’ll pass both the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Biden ran for president on a promise to curb growing inequality in America, using education and social spending paid for by companies and the rich.

He vowed to depart from Republican tax-cutting including a 2017 tax reduction under his predecessor, Donald Trump.

The president had hoped to reach an agreement before the Rome G20 summit, where a global minimum tax will be high on the agenda, and a climate conference in Glasgow, where Biden hopes to present a message that the United States is back in the fight against global warming.

Read rest at Reuters

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