Politics Pelosi enters pivotal stretch on Biden agenda
Who's the boss? Pelosi's legacy sealed after kowtowing to 'the Squad'
Given her reputation as a master legislator, one would think Pelosi would have been able to seamlessly bring together moderates and progressives on the $3.5 trillion spending bill. The largest spending bill in U.S. history includes billions for actual infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, rail and power grids. These items have bipartisan support and solid approval from American voters.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) faces daunting days ahead as she races to unite feuding factions of her restive caucus and pass a massive social benefits package at the heart of President Biden's agenda, along with a separate infrastructure bill, before November.
It all makes for a heavy lift, one steeped in urgency and carrying potentially momentous consequences for both a party facing tough odds of keeping the House in next year's midterms and a president who's sinking in the polls and desperately needs a big legislative win.
Can Democrats hold together? Biden's agenda depends on it
WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s favorite sayings, a guidepost for Democrats in trying times: "Our diversity is our strength. Our unity is our power.” But as Democrats try to usher President Joe Biden's expansive federal government overhaul into law, it's the party's diversity of progressive and conservative views that's pulling them apart. And only by staying unified does their no-votes-to-spare majority have any hope of pushing his rebuilding agenda into law.
To pull it off, Pelosi is attempting to thread a delicate needle, weighing the demands of energized liberals - who view Biden's occupancy in the Oval Office as a rare opportunity for Democrats to realize their most ambitious policy designs - against those of cautious moderates, who are sounding alarms about deficit spending, government overreach and the harm the debate might do to their 2022 reelection prospects.
Given the high stakes, Democrats are increasingly framing the legislation as a do-or-die moment for the party's political success moving forward.
"Failure is not an option," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. "And I think everybody - liberals and conservatives in the Democratic Party alike - understand that."
Nancy Pelosi’s reputation as master legislator takes a ding
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once described herself as a "master legislator." Her critics have called that reputation into question after divisions within her own caucus left her unable to bring key portions of the president’s legislative agenda up for a planned vote last week. © Provided by Washington Examiner Pelosi planned last Thursday to pass a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that is a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. But, she was unable to do so when the party's progressive faction threatened to defeat it unless their demands were met on a sweeping $3.
With razor-thin margins in both chambers and Republicans unanimously opposed to the spending package, Democratic leaders can afford virtually no defections. Pelosi this week acknowledged the challenges they face as they trim the cost of the $3.5 trillion social benefits package - a figure initially championed by Biden - in ways that can satisfy centrist deficit hawks without alienating progressives.
"I'm very disappointed that we're not going with the original $3.5 trillion, which was very transformative," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol, forecasting "some difficult decisions because we have fewer resources."
The exact size of the final legislation remains unknown, since the talks remain ongoing and a pair of centrist senators - Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) - have yet to name their ceiling. Addressing House Democrats earlier this month, Biden suggested that negotiators shoot for a number in the range of $2 trillion.
The AP Interview: Jayapal pushes Biden for $3T spending bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says she has pushed President Joe Biden to hold the line and keep his ambitious social spending plan closer to $3 trillion instead of the $2 trillion range that he has floated to Democrats in recent days. Jayapal told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that she had told Biden that his suggestion for compromise was “too low, and I said that I would really like to be closer to three.” The original amount for the package of Democratic initiatives, including expanded child care, health care, education and environmental programs, was $3.5 trillion.
Democratic leaders have several strategic options as they strive to cut costs. They can eliminate some of the benefit provisions in the initial package; keep those programs but condense the duration over which they're funded; or some combination of the two.
In a letter to Democrats Monday evening, Pelosi suggested that some programs would be cut altogether. She promoted the idea of putting the focus more squarely on child benefits and efforts to tackle climate change.
"Overwhelmingly, the guidance I am receiving from Members is to do fewer things well," she wrote.
Yet that prescription drew howls from some progressives, who have urged Biden and Pelosi to adopt the most ambitious package possible - and want it to include all the major benefits of the initial $3.5 trillion proposal, even if the timelines need some pruning.
"We have been clear to the White House [and] to the Speaker as well that what the Progressive Caucus would like to have is not some false choice of just doing a couple of things ... but actually reducing the number of years slightly if we need to," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Tuesday on a press call.
Pelosi enters pivotal stretch on Biden agenda
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) faces daunting days ahead as she races to unite feuding factions of her restive caucus and pass a massive social benefits package at the heart of President Biden's agenda, along with a separate infrastructure bill, before November.It all makes for a heavy lift, one steeped in urgency and carrying potentially momentous consequences for both a party facing tough odds of keeping the House in next year's midterms,It all makes for a heavy lift, one steeped in urgency and carrying potentially momentous consequences for both a party facing tough odds of keeping the House in next year's midterms, and a president who's sinking in the polls and desperately needs a big legislative win.
Jayapal echoed another liberal demand, championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), that the social spending package also include an expansion of Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing benefits.
Pelosi on Tuesday appeared to acknowledge the liberal pushback, saying the first cost-cutting strategy would be to scale back the duration of benefits, rather than slashing them altogether.
"The fact is that if there are fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made. ... And some members have written back to me and said, 'I want to do everything.' So we'll have that discussion," Pelosi said. "The timing would be reduced in many cases to make the cost lower."
Pelosi ticked off a number of proposed benefit programs that will be prioritized as Democrats make those tough choices, including a child tax benefit, expanded child care and prekindergarten programs and new spending for home health care.
"I mean, we're still talking about a couple trillion dollars," she said.
Pelosi had previously set an Oct. 31 deadline for passing Biden's agenda, which also includes a bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate passed in August. In Monday's letter, the Speaker said that, in order to meet that timeline, "it is essential that difficult decisions must be made very soon."
A 'very disappointed' Pelosi and a 'frustrated' Biden confront the realities of a less ambitious domestic agenda
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could have been speaking for the majority of Democrats in Washington when she said on Tuesday that she was “very disappointed” that President Biden’s domestic agenda will have to be pared down because of opposition from Democratic Sens. “If there are fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made,” Pelosi said during her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol. Manchin has indicated he’d like to see Build Back Better, as the president’s “human infrastructure” proposals are collectively known, end up costing around $2 trillion.
Adding to the urgency has been the Nov. 2 election for governor in Virginia, where Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, the hands-on favorite heading into the campaign, is facing a much tougher race than many expected. A big legislative victory for Democrats in Congress could boost their chances in that race, many lawmakers contend.
On Tuesday, Pelosi said she's "optimistic" that Democrats are on track to meet the month-end deadline, which coincides with the expiration of the federal authority for highway funding. And she amplified a previous vow that she won't bring any bill to the House floor that can't make it through the Senate - a concern of Democratic centrists wary of walking the plank in support of liberal wish lists that have no chance of becoming law.
"I'm not asking members to vote for something that has no chance to pass in the Senate," she said.
McGovern, for his part, conceded that the process has been messy and the internal divisions stark. But in the end, he predicted, Democrats will achieve victory on the reforms they've sought, in some cases, for decades.
"There's a thousand ways to figure this out," he said. "I mean, this is a big deal. I would like to go bigger and bolder; others want to go smaller. But we'll end up in a place that will still be transformational for this country."
Jordain Carney and Scott Wong contributed.
Big changes in White House ideas to pay for $2 trillion plan .
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — In an abrupt change, the White House is floating new plans to pay for parts of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social services and climate change package, shelving a proposed big increase in corporate tax rates though also adding a new billionaires' tax on the investment gains of the very richest Americans. The reversal Wednesday came as Biden returned to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to highlight the middle class values he says are at the heart of the package that Democrats are racing to finish. Biden faces resistance from key holdouts, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.