President Joe Biden’s staff members prevented the president from taking questions during a Democrat caucus meeting on Capitol Hill, amid high-stakes negotiations that have imperiled his multi-trillion-dollar agenda and exasperated the schism between the party’s corporatist and socialist factions.
Politico reporter Sarah Ferris said Biden offered to take questions from Democrat lawmakers upon concluding his remarks, but his staff members “jumped in.”
“He didn’t take any questions,” she said.
Sources told Ferris and a second Politico reporter, Heather Caygle, that Biden discussed a topline range between $1.9 trillion and $2.3 trillion in spending.
“Even a smaller bill can make historic investments,” the president reportedly told Democrats, saying that the infrastructure bill “ain’t going to happen until we reach an agreement on the next piece of legislation.”
One more BIDEN message to Dems:
“Let’s try to figure out what we are for in reconciliation… and then we can move ahead,” he said. — Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) October 1, 2021
Pelosi and her leadership team meeting now, we’re told. — Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) October 1, 2021
“Let’s try to figure out what we are for in reconciliation and then we can move ahead,” he then added.
Caygle noted that Democrats have been working to get moderate holdouts Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to support $2.1 trillion in spending, despite Manchin repeatedly affirming that $1.5 trillion is his limit.
The visit comes one day after the House failed to reach a late-night vote on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and an accompanying $3.5 trillion social spending package.
It’s the second time this week Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called off a planned vote on the infrastructure package, sending lawmakers home around 10 p.m. Thursday. Earlier in the day, she appeared confident she’d not only hold an infrastructure vote but that it would pass her chamber.