PBS NewsHour


Biden again urges Congress to pass 2 major bills

The fate of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion spending package is at risk amid Democratic infighting. On Friday, Biden acknowledged concerns, but urged Congress to pass both bills. Amna Nawaz begins our report, and joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

AIRED: September 24, 2021 | 0:03:15

JUDY WOODRUFF: Major pieces of President Biden's ambitious domestic agenda are at risk tonight,

amid infighting among members of his own Democratic Party.

Hanging in the balance, the bipartisan infrastructure bill

and his $3.5 trillion spending package to address health care, child care,

the environment, and more. The president spoke about the status of negotiations earlier today.

JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: We're at this stalemate at the moment.

And we're going to have to get these two pieces of legislation passed. Both need to be passed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Amna Nawaz joins me now.

So, Amna, what -- tell us more about the stalemate the president is referring to.

AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, it's a big acknowledge, but he's sort of been building his language towards this.

And it is very descriptive and indicative of where they are right now. You're talking

about two major bills, both central to the president's economic agenda,

that $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the larger $3.5 trillion

reconciliation bill. They are locked up in an intra-Democratic Party battle right now.

So, we know, of course, centrists want that bipartisan bill to move forward through,

first alone. It's already passed the Senate. They have some sticker shock when it comes to

the reconciliation bill. And progressives want both tracked, moving through together. They have

even threatened to tank the infrastructure bill if they don't move through together.

So, look, President Biden, we know this week has been working to unite both sides,

figure out where the common ground is. His language today is very reflective of where

they are right now. He ended with that little bit of hope and optimism. They both need to be passed.

It's not clear where the common ground is moving forward.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, given all that, where does it go from here?

AMNA NAWAZ: So here's where we are today. You have got the leader of the House Congressional -- the

Congressional Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal, basically doubling down and saying,

we are not going to leave behind the things that we fought so hard for,

child care and education and climate and so on, the human infrastructure bill.

And she had some tough words for those moderate centrists, for Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema,

saying, you drafted the infrastructure bill without input from us. We have drafted the

reconciliation bill. You now need to come along.

Now, Senator Manchin has said this week that President Biden asked him for a number. He said,

tell me what you would support. What would it take to get your support on this bill?

Please just continue to work on this. That's where we could see some agreement,

if they can come to some kind of compromise on the number.

But the House, meanwhile, it's going to continue to work through the weekend.

Speaker Pelosi's office today told us the Budget Committee is going to

continue to mark up that reconciliation bill tomorrow. It then goes to the

Rules Committee. A source in her office says they are very much moving forward.

But in her latest letter to her Democratic colleagues, she did have some careful language.

She said: "As negotiations continue, there may be changes," so maybe bracing some members of

her caucus that some of the details or the contours of the bill could change.

It does end with a plan, though. Speaker Pelosi announced she does plan to move forward next

week with two bills, both infrastructure and reconciliation. And we should say she

pledged to bring the infrastructure bill to a vote on Monday, when, by the way, Judy,

the Senate is also likely voting on continuing government funding and raising the debt ceiling.

So, just all of the things happening on Monday.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All of it's happening all at one time. And we will see

what happens. It is going to be a full weekend.

AMNA NAWAZ: We will see.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Amna Nawaz, thanks very much.

AMNA NAWAZ: Thanks, Judy.


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