House set to vote on unpopular agenda, Biden holds his breath

House leaders are expected to hold votes on Friday for two key elements of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda to include multi-trillion-dollar spending measures for infrastructure, social welfare, and climate change programs.

But the votes will come despite continued vocal opposition from key moderate Democrats in the Senate including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, though she helped negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure package in her chamber that appears to have widespread support.

Earlier this fall, Democrats failed to meet deadlines leaders imposed on each chamber to pass both bills, which represent the crux of Biden’s economic agenda moving forward. The infrastructure bill has already passed the Senate.

On Thursday, the president himself called on his party to pass his larger $1.75 trillion social-and-climate measure even as the party suffered major losses in key state and local races throughout the country on Tuesday.

Also Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) worked through the night from her office at the Capitol Building while keeping members up late as well to work for votes.

Earlier in the day, she said at a press briefing, “We’re going to pass both bills.”

Pelosi appears to be focused on passing the most comprehensive reconciliation measure she can and then leaving it up to the Senate to add or subtract to it so that it can garner enough support in the upper chamber to pass, the Daily Mail reported.

In the meantime, the House Rules Committee convened late Thursday to mark up both bills and prepare them for votes in the full chamber.

Democrats initially wanted to pass the social and climate package before Biden left for Europe earlier this week to attend a UN climate summit but were unable to find the votes.

The party has a slim 221-213 majority in the House and thus will need nearly all members to vote in unison to get the reconciliation bill passed, but it still faces an uncertain future in the Senate, even in a slimmed-down version, because Manchin and Sinema have consistently opposed the price tag.

In an interview with CNN Thursday, the West Virginia Democrat reflected on Tuesday’s election losses for his party around the country, saying that he believes Democrats’ far-left agenda is hurting its chances of being successful.

“We just have to work together,” Manchin said. “We can’t go too far left. This is not a center-left or a left country. We are center if anything, [a] center-right country, that’s being shown. And we ought to be able to recognize that.”

“And all of my friends on the left, the progressives or liberals or whatever, I said, I’m not,” he added. “I always say that I’m a responsible West Virginia Democrat. I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. I think most people in the middle feel that way.”

Left-wing groups and activists have stepped up pressure on Manchin in recent days. Climate change demonstrators surrounded his vehicle as he made his way to the Capitol on Thursday and followed him into the parking garage, forcing security to clear a path for him into the building.

Missy Halsey


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