Biden: Budget Talks Hit 'Stalemate' 09/25 08:41
President Joe Biden says that talks over his $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan
have hit a "stalemate" in Congress as he made the case for his expansive effort
to recast the nation's tax and spending programs and make what he sees as
sweeping, overdue investments.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden says that talks over his $3.5
trillion rebuilding plan have hit a "stalemate" in Congress as he made the case
for his expansive effort to recast the nation's tax and spending programs and
make what he sees as sweeping, overdue investments.
Biden spoke at the White House as Democrats in the House and Senate are
laboring to finish drafts and overcome differences between the party's centrist
and moderate factions. Despite efforts by the president and congressional
leaders to show progress, Biden on Friday cast the road ahead as long and
potentially cumbersome, even with upcoming deadlines.
"We're getting down to the hard spot here," Biden told reporters at the
White House. "We're at this stalemate at the moment."
Biden said the process is "going to be up and down" but "hopefully at the
end of the day I'll be able to deliver on what I said I would do."
The president's acknowledgment of Democrats' disagreements -- and they have
serious differences over taxes, health, climate change and the ultimate price
tag -- contrasted with congressional leaders' more upbeat tone in recent days.
Using carefully chosen words, top Democrats have seemed to be trying to create
a sense of momentum as House votes approach.
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., predicted passage of both
pillars of Biden's domestic agenda. One is a still-evolving $3.5 trillion
package of social safety net and climate programs, the other a separate $1
trillion measure financing highway, internet and other infrastructure projects
that's already passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
"We're going to pass both bills," she told reporters.
But she did not spell out how she and her Senate counterpart, Majority
Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would resolve disagreements and distrust between
their party's moderate and progressive wings that's stalled both measures. And
there remained confusion about the voting schedule, which will be crucial.
Pelosi promised House moderates last month that by this Monday, the chamber
will consider the infrastructure bill, centrists' top priority.
But progressives are threatening to vote to derail the infrastructure
legislation until a final version of their favorite -- the $3.5 trillion social
and environment bill -- passes the Senate and returns to the House.
Progressives think delaying the public works bill would pressure moderates to
back the larger measure.
"We're bringing the bill up, we will have a vote when we have the votes,"
Pelosi told a reporter Friday about the infrastructure bill's timing. While she
said debate would begin Monday, her remarks suggested that final passage of the
public works legislation could slip.
Pelosi also told reporters that "the plan" was for her chamber to consider
the $3.5 trillion package next week as well. It remained unclear how
House-Senate bargainers would solve their differences over that bill that
The president said his private meetings with some two dozen Democratic
lawmakers this week in efforts to hasten progress and close the deal went well
-- describing the tone as collegial and with "no hollering."
But as lawmakers raised objections over the sweep and scope of the plan,
which is to be funded by higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, Biden
said he tried to get them focused on priorities -- what they can and can't live
"It's about paying your fair share, for lord's sake," Biden said. "There
clearly is enough, from a panoply of options, to pay for whatever it is."
In a stark reality check, Biden suggested talks could drag to the end of the
year. "It's just going to take some time," he said.
Lawmakers are working nonstop and Biden is facing pressure to close the
deal. Pelosi met Friday at the Capitol with her leadership team, and the House
Budget Committee planned a rare Saturday session to take the strictly
procedural step of sending the $3.5 trillion bill, as drafted by 13 other House
panels, to the full chamber without any changes.
Before the House votes on that measure, it is certain to change, perhaps
more than once, to reflect compromises reached with Senate Democrats.
Biden's big vision over his "Build Back Better" campaign promise proposes
expanding health, education and federal programs, with more services for
Americans of all ages, while investing heavily in efforts to tackle climate
change. All this would be paid for largely by hiking tax rates on corporations
and wealthy individuals, those earning beyond $400,000 a year, or $450,000 for
But centrist Democrats see the overall price tag as too much, while
progressive lawmakers are hesitant to compromise any further after already
having dropped even more ambitious ideas.