US President Joe Biden (78) is fighting to push through two central projects of his term in office in Congress: a large package for investments in the country’s infrastructure and a second huge package for social investments. His own party stands in his way, of all people. The wing struggle of the Democrats endangers his domestic political agenda. A possible vote on the infrastructure package was now missing again.
Both projects are shaky in view of the internal disputes. Actually, there should already be a vote on the smaller infrastructure package on Monday – this was then repeatedly postponed due to disputes between different wings of Biden’s party.
It “doesn’t matter” when it comes
It doesn’t matter when an agreement is reached, said Biden on Friday after a visit to the Democratic Group in the US House of Representatives and at the same time was confident of victory. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in six minutes, six days or six weeks. We’ll make it, ”said Biden, referring to the vote. After all, the packages to be approved are about Biden’s election promise.
“We will deliver for the American people,” he later promised via Twitter.
The smaller package with classic infrastructure investments, with which roads, bridges and other transport and energy networks in the USA are to be modernized, had already passed the Senate in August – with the support of Republicans.
Around 550 billion US dollars in new investments in infrastructure are planned over the next few years. In total, including previously budgeted funds, the package is worth more than a trillion dollars. But the final vote in the House of Representatives is still missing. Actually, the Democrats would have enough votes to pass the package – but only just barely.
Dispute with the Democrats
The fact that the approval for the infrastructure package is shaky is due to a serious dispute within the Democratic Party over a second, even larger investment package that provides for an expansion of social benefits in the country. For example, Biden wants to invest more in education and childcare, support families more and reduce their tax burden, and at the same time take money into the fight against the climate crisis.
According to his plans, this package is worth $ 3.5 trillion, also spread over several years. The Republicans have rigorously blocked themselves against this second package. Therefore, the Democrats want to use a special parliamentary procedure to get it through Congress on their own. However, they only have very narrow majorities in both chambers.
That means: every vote counts. However, some moderate Democrats are critical of the high spending, while some progressive Democrats would have wished for more.
House of Representatives will meet again Tuesday
The progressives threaten to block the smaller infrastructure package unless the larger second package is secured at the same time. If there were to be a vote on the smaller package before an agreement was reached on the big one, the progressive Democrats could fail the infrastructure package.
Nancy Pelosi does not want to take this risk – and has therefore so far not been able to keep her own promises for the date of the vote. A possible vote on this was now also missing on Friday evening – the House of Representatives did not want to meet again until Tuesday.
Finally, Pelosi stated that the infrastructure package would not be voted on until there was a solution to the large social package. One strives for “clarity and consensus”. Although “great progress” had been made, this was not yet sufficient for an agreement. On Friday evening, the House of Representatives only temporarily extended already expired traffic programs, which are actually related to the infrastructure package. This is to prevent forced vacation of thousands of employees in the transport sector. The approval of the Senate was still pending.
Biden got himself intensely involved in the negotiations in order to enforce the plans. The fact that he went to the congress headquarters on Friday to speak to Democratic MPs shows his intense efforts to save the two core issues of his term in office. Visits by the president to the US Capitol are rare. Particularly prominent opponents of the large 3.5 billion package are MPs Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Manchin had brought into play on Thursday to reduce the project to $ 1.5 trillion. Progressives find that inadequate. (SDA / euc)