After much Senate wrangling, Biden says he’s got framework spending deal, urges Americans’ support
President Biden on Thursday in a White House address told Americans he’s brokered a deal among Senate Democrats for his multi-trillion-dollar Build Back Better spending bill, urging them to support the framework legislation that he argued will give them the financial safety net many so desperately need.
“We’re letting the world pass us by today. With my Democratic colleagues, we have a framework for my build back better initiative,” said Biden, who argued the bill will help millions of middle-class families, including those struggling to raise children while also caring for elderly parents.
“They don’t want to put [parents] in nursing homes,” Biden said before departing to Italy for an international climate summit. “You’re just looking for an answer so your parents can keep living independently with dignity. For millions of families in America this issue, the most important issues they are facing, are personal.”
Biden put the cost of the framework for his climate change and social spending plan at $1.85 trillion, a considerable cut from its earlier $3.5 trillion price tag.
Biden spoke from the White House after returning Capitol Hill where he rallied support for the measure and for a companion $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
He made it clear during his roughly 20-minute speech that the success of his early presidency hinges on the passage of these two measures.
“I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week,” he said. “We badly need a vote on both of these measures.”
The three-page framework document outlines the initiatives the president wants to see in the spending plan, and tellingly, those he feels he can, politically, live without.
However, the scant details have left at least some Democrats skeptical about voting in the near future on a plan for which they have no script.
“There’s been so many changes in this process – so many people, you know? Yes, no, doing the Hokey Pokey, one foot in, one foot out,” said New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive pushing for as much social safety net spending as possible.
“I wish I could say yes, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty within the caucus as to what’s contained in the deal,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, when asked whether all 50 Senate Democrats would back the plan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared significantly more confident in her ability to whip the Democratic conference.
“When the president gets off that plane (to Europe), we want him to have a vote of confidence from this Congress,” she said, implying that her chamber would vote blind on the initiative as soon as this afternoon.
Biden also spoke about his bill in terms of moving American competitiveness into the next century, while touting the education opportunities offered in the framework.
“This is about competitiveness versus complacency,” he said. “It’s about leading the world, or letting the world pass us by … This framework includes historic investments in our nation, and in our people.”
He added, “No one got everything they wanted, including me. But that’s what compromise is. That’s consensus. And that’s what I ran on.”