President Joe Biden is staking much of his legacy on an ambitious spending proposal known as the Build Back Better plan, though its passage remains uncertain amid Democratic infighting on Capitol Hill.
Recent reports indicate that the president has resorted to calling individual lawmakers in a desperate bid to garner support for the bill.
“They are not there yet”
Congressional reporter Sean Moran cited a tweet from Punch Bowl News founder Jake Sherman, who in turn referenced multiple insiders.
“Biden is making calls to House Democrats, urging them to support the Build Back Better Act, according to 3 sources familiar,” Sherman wrote. “This comes as House Democratic leadership works overtime to get votes for the BBB. They are not there yet.”
In an effort to appease moderate Democrats, Biden scaled back the $3.5 trillion bill by about half. While Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) had balked at the original cost of the plan, the lower $1.75 trillion framework has alienated many in the party’s progressive wing.
Some, like Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), are threatening to retaliate by blocking the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill with a price tag just north of $1 trillion.
Of course, Congressional Progressive Caucus chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) signaled this week that leftist House Democrats remain willing to lend their support to the slimmer spending package provided that Biden can secure majority support in the Senate.
“That’s what we are ready to do”
“The president said he thinks he can get 51 votes for this bill,” Jayapal said. “And we now have said that we will vote for both bills in the House together. And that’s what we’re going to do. That’s what we are ready to do.”
She went on to assert that her caucus is “going to trust him” as the bill advances through the legislative branch.
“We are going to do our work in the House and let the Senate do its work,” she said. “But we’re tired of, you know, just continuing to wait for one or two people.”
She was apparently referencing Manchin and Sinema. For his part, the West Virginia Democrat is still on the fence regarding his support for the smaller package.
“Simply put, I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact that it will have on our national debt, our economy, and most importantly, all of our American people,” Manchin said this week.