Biden “understands this is a process,” Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.) said in an interview. But the president is “rightly confident in our ability to get something through”.
The president focused his lunchtime remarks on the nuts and bolts of his agenda, such as the child tax credit that will hit bank accounts this week. He received a series of standing ovations and praise from Senators ranging from Jon Tester (D-Mont.), A moderate, to progressive Budget Committee chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), According to a participant.
Senate Democrats left lunch optimistic and positive about their ability to implement Biden’s nearly $ 4 trillion physical and social infrastructure plans. But they also acknowledged that there was a long way to go before the plans reached the president’s office for a signature.
âThere is still a lot to learn about the budget committee process,â said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) âI certainly haven’t made a commitment to vote for this yet. The bipartisan package for me is too thin on some of the accounts that matter in Connecticut when it comes to rebuilding our infrastructure, but we have a chance, I don’t think we have a choice to fail here.
Over lunch, Biden paid tribute to caucus members, saying they inspired and paved the way for his proposals, according to a source familiar with the president’s remarks.
Biden pointed to polls that showed support for both the bipartisan infrastructure plan and its care-saving plans that would go through the reconciliation process. In particular, he said the poll shows that asking the wealthiest businesses and people to fund Democrats’ plans “touches voters a lot”, the source added. And Biden argued that many of the benefits of the budget resolution would result in a tax cut for middle-class people if they made it law.
At one point, Biden called Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), A close confidant who succeeded him in the Senate, “the boy who has my seat and he does a better job than me,” two sources say. familiar with his words.
The bipartite infrastructure framework has yet to be transformed into comprehensive legislation. And while the $ 3.5 trillion social spending package is expected to include Democratic priorities ranging from child care to climate change, most senators have yet to consider the smallest details. With a very slim majority in the Senate and unanimous opposition from the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cannot afford a single defection.
Schumer, Sanders and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) – who helped negotiate the budget package with Sanders – briefed their colleagues over lunch, outlining their plans to invest billions of billions in green energy and climate resilience, extend universal pre-k schooling and paid time off, and extend the child tax credit beyond its year-end expiration date. Sanders also met his goal of including Medicare expansion to cover dental, vision and hearing care and Democrats’ plan to expand home care, reduce prescription drug costs, promote Medicaid expansion to the resistant red states and strengthen Obamacare.
These initiatives will be funded by raising taxes on corporations, the wealthy and on the promise of “economic growth” – a form of “dynamic rating” that could be pushed back by Senate moderates.
Over lunch, Biden did not single out Manchin and his fellow moderate senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) as he did before. Both are open to supporting all massive spending, but so far are non-binding.
But Biden has made it clear that all Senate Democrats need to be on board, making sure to thank the entire caucus for their work so far in helping their agenda, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Said. Manchin said after lunch that Biden “did a very good job, very respectful.”
Leaving the Senate, Biden put his arm around Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) As he stepped out of his old playground, striking up a close conversation. Warnock is one of two Georgian senators who gave Schumer the majority with his victory earlier this year, and gave Biden the chance to push through a Democratic agenda rather than having to negotiate with Republicans over everything. He is also a candidate for re-election in 2022.
âIt was a brief conversation, very brief,â Warnock said, adding that voting rights had been âabsolutelyâ discussed during their conversation.
Senate Democrats say the legislative task ahead is a time Biden was made for, having spent nearly 40 years in the upper house of Congress.
âHe was built for that, he’s a Senate guy,â said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii.).
But Schatz also noted that it’s not just up to the president to put his legislation on his desk.
“It’s going to take Chief Schumer, President Pelosi and every Congressional Democrat to act like an adult and understand that we have once in a generation, probably once in a century, to make the kind of changes that we have. promised, “he said.
Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.