President Biden on Saturday told reporters that “everybody is frustrated” after two massive pieces of legislation stalled in Congress, as well as a debt limit increase, amid infighting among a divided Democratic caucus.
“Everybody is frustrated, it’s part of being in government, being frustrated,” Biden told reporters on the White House lawn.
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Biden spoke to reporters on his way to Delaware for the weekend after left-wing Democrats had moved to scupper the passage of a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill if it was voted on before a separate $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill packed with left-wing priorities on social spending and climate changes, along with significant tax increases for wealthier Americans.
The latter bill would have been advanced using the budget reconciliation process, meaning it would only need 50 votes in the Senate, and therefore avoid a Republican filibuster. It would, however, require every one of the 50 Senate Democrats to be on board.
That unity looked in doubt this week due to objections to the sky-high price tag from moderate Democrats including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, W-Va., who are seeking to bring the price down. Without their support, the legislation is likely dead on arrival in the Senate, since the bill is not designed to garner Republican support.
But the progressive Democrats refused to back the infrastructure bill until there is agreement on the enormous reconciliation package, meaning it wouldn’t have the votes to pass the House.
In a letter on Saturday, Pelosi told Democrats that she wants the infrastructure bill passed before the end of the October.
“There is an October 31st Surface Transportation Authorization deadline, after last night’s passage of a critical 30-day extension. We must pass [Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework] well before then – the sooner the better, to get the jobs out there.”
The snarling of the bills was the latest sign of the political difficulties Democrats face with a 50-50 Senate and an extremely slim majority in the House.
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‘While great progress has been made in the negotiations to develop a House, Senate and White House agreement on the Build Back Better Act, more time is needed to complete the task,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in another letter to House Dems on Friday, referring to the $3.5 trillion bill. “Our priority to create jobs in the health care, family and climate agendas is a shared value. Our Chairs are still working for clarity and consensus. Clearly, the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill will pass once we have agreement on the reconciliation bill.”
Biden met with Democrats on Capitol Hill on Friday in what Fox News was told was an effort to bring down the temperature down between the two wings. Biden is said to have told Democrats they don’t have the votes to pass the infrastructure bill.
On Saturday, Biden promised to “work like hell” to get the bills passed.
“I support both of them. And I think we can get them both done,” he said.
On Saturday, the White House also released a statement saying that Biden left a meeting on Friday with caucus Democrats “with the firm belief that there was a shared commitment from across the Democratic Caucus to deliver for the American people.”
“The President and his team will continue close engagement with Members of both the House and the Senate through the weekend,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “And he looks forward to not only welcoming Members to the White House next week, but also traveling the country to make the case for his bold and ambitious agenda.
Separately, Democrats are pushing forward with an effort to raise the debt ceiling, as the nation’s debt continues to increase amid a massive spending binge in Washington, and faces an Oct. 18 deadline to do so. Biden on Saturday said a failure by Republicans to agree to lifting the limit would be “unconscionable.”
“Well I hope Republicans aren’t irresponsible enough to refuse to raise the debt limit— that would be totally unconscionable,” Biden said.
But Republicans took aim at Democrats for having “failed” in their legislative efforts.
“It’s official. Democrats failed,” Republicans Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks, R-Va., said in a statement.
“This week was their shot to pass an infrastructure deal and a massive spending bill via reconciliation and they couldn’t get it done because their party has been taken over by radicals.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Kyle Morris contributed to this report.
Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.