U.S. President Joe Biden said on Saturday he was going to “work like hell” to get both an infrastructure bill and a multi-trillion-dollar social spending bill passed through Congress and plans to travel more to bolster support with Americans.
Biden visited the Capitol on Friday to try to end a fight between moderates and left-leaning progressives in his Democratic Party that has threatened the two bills that make up the core of his domestic agenda.
The president on Saturday acknowledged criticism that he had not done more to gin up support for the bills by traveling around the country. He noted there were many reasons for that, including his focus on hurricane and storm damage during recent trips, among other things.
Biden said he would be going around the country “making the case why it’s so important” and making it clearer to people what is in the two bills.
He said he wanted with the bills to make life more livable for ordinary Americans by making child care affordable, for example.
“There’s nothing in any of these pieces of legislation that’s radical, that is unreasonable,” Biden said. “I’m going to try to sell what I think the people, the American people, will buy.”
Biden expressed confidence that both bills would get passed but declined to set a deadline, such as the November Thanksgiving holiday, for when that would happen.
“I believe I can get this done,” Biden said.
Moderate Democratic lawmakers wanted an immediate vote on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill in the House of Representatives that has already passed the Senate, while progressives want to wait until there is agreement on a sweeping $3.5 trillion bill to bolster social spending and fight climate change.
Biden, a former senator who is deeply familiar with how the legislative process works, told his caucus on Friday that they could delay a vote on the smaller bill and sharply scale back the larger one to around $2 trillion.
Meanwhile the president said on Saturday he hoped Republicans would not use a filibuster in the Senate to block efforts to raise the debt ceiling.
“That would be totally unconscionable,” he said.
The Treasury Department estimates that it has until about Oct. 18 for the government’s $28.4 trillion borrowing limit to be raised by Congress or risk a debt default with potentially catastrophic economic consequences.