WASHINGTON — President Biden will scramble to Capitol Hill Friday afternoon to try and salvage his signature spending plans after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid the groundwork to delay a vote on his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill for up to a month, sources told The Post.
Biden’s effort to strike a deal with warring House Democrats also came after two leading progressive lawmakers took shots at him for not engaging in talks sooner.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jaypal (D-Wash.) — a supporter of Biden’s controversial $3.5 trillion social spending bill — told reporters that she spoke to the president several times since Pelosi (D-Calif.) was forced to delay a vote on his Senate-passed, $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill late Thursday.
Jayapal said Biden was “deeply engaged in trying to iron out these differences” among lawmakers who are split over the larger package, CNN reported.
“Would I have preferred that he, you know, engage sooner on the reconciliation bill? Sure,” she said while heading into a closed-door meeting of House Democrats.
“But we’ve had a number of other issues come up. And I feel he’s doing what he needs to be doing right now.”
The caucus meeting with Biden is set for 3:30 pm, according to a notice to members that warns cell phones will be banned, masks are required and there will be no Zoom allowances.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also said of Biden, “I think that the president has been playing a convening role and he’s exploring the contours of the positive contribution he can make,” according to CNN.
Jayapal later told reporters that she was “very confident of our numbers” if progressives wanted to defeat Biden’s infrastructure bill.
But House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) later said of the infrastructure bill: “I expect to vote today, and I expect that the bill will pass today.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday that “the majority, an overwhelming amount of our members” would vote against it.
During their Friday meeting, House Democrats discussed a potential vote later Friday on a 30-day extension of funding for the nation’s highways, which expired at the end of Thursday, sources said.
The move would be supported by Republicans, a GOP leadership source said.
Temporarily extending the life of the Highway Trust Fund would take the pressure off Democrats to pass Biden’s infrastructure bill, which progressives in the House want tied to passage of the social spending bill by the Senate.
That chamber is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break any ties.
But two moderate Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have refused to support the entire $3.5 trillion package, with Manchin saying Thursday that he wants it scaled back to just $1.5 trillion.
Asked Friday when a deal might be reached on the social spending bill, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said, “It won’t be today,” CNN reported.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson said Sinema was in Phoenix for an unspecified “medical appointment” but “continues remote negotiations with the White House.”