By Ivan Maltsev
Joe Biden held talks with moderate and progressive Democrats.
President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are continuing negotiations over the cost and scope of the social spending package and hope to reach a compromise this week, sources familiar with Tuesday’s talks said.
Biden spent the whole day meeting with lawmakers and trying to agree on the simultaneous adoption of two bills – a bipartisan infrastructure package and a package on investments in the social sphere worth trillions of dollars.
According to one of the sources, an agreement can be reached by the middle of the week if “everything goes well,” the second source said that the White House hopes that a deal will be concluded, “in the coming days.”
The social infrastructure spending package, initially estimated at $3.5 trillion, could be reduced to $1.9–2.2 trillion, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chairman of the Progressive Democrats caucus, said after meeting with Biden at the White House.
In any case, according to sources, the final size of the social package will be seriously cut. In addition, the sources warned about the “fragility” of the negotiations, and that hopes for an early agreement may not be justified.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set October 31 as the deadline for approving an infrastructure package worth $1.2 trillion that has already been approved in the Senate and enjoys support among representatives of both parties.
As part of today’s meetings at the White House, Biden met with a group of progressive Democrats who had previously stated that they would not support the infrastructure package if it were not put to the vote in conjunction with the social bill.
The president also met Tuesday morning with moderate Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who had previously expressed concern about the size of the welfare package and pushed Biden to reduce its initial cost, given that the votes of two Democrats are crucial to the adoption of both packages.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said today about the “progress” made in the meeting with Manchin and Sinema.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats aim to hold a vote as early as this week. Speaking to reporters after talks with his party colleagues, he said: “In this room, we have come to a general agreement that we have to agree, and we want to do it this week.”
Administration officials still refuse to provide detailed information about specific components of the social package – and potential compromises – claiming that they do not want to conduct “public negotiations.”