Joe Biden Lobbies Lawmakers at Capitol With Domestic Agenda Hanging On by a Thread

President Joe Biden is taking it to the streets, or the U.S. Capitol at least, to try to get his campaign promises approved.

Biden, who has been meeting nonstop with lawmakers this week on two pieces of legislation that will make or break his agenda, is going directly to Congress to try to gin up support for the proposals amid Democratic in-fighting.

"The President will travel to the Hill to speak with members of the House Democratic Caucus this afternoon," the White House announced in an email to reporters minutes before the president headed out.

Progressive Democrats have thwarted plans to fast-track Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

They want assurances for a separate $3.5 trillion package to expand the social safety net, providing universal pre-kindergarten, paid parental leave, expanded Medicare coverage, climate change mitigation and other progressive priorities that have been championed by Biden.

The House is on call for a potential vote on Friday after lawmakers left the U.S. Capitol after midnight Thursday, continuing negotiations. The standoff continues between progressive Democrats, backed by U.S. Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders, and two moderate senators holding up a Senate vote on the larger bill.

Progressives have held firm this week that they won't pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill without agreements on the larger plan.

"I have consistently said that we need a vote in the Senate because I want to make sure that there are no delays that there are no mix-ups that there are no mixed understandings about what the deal is, and so that's what I've been saying," U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters Friday. "This is the legislative process. It has to work itself out, hopefully it will be soon. We're going to work."

Biden's trek to the Capitol signals additional emphasis on a much-needed win for his presidency, mired in controversies just eight months into office, from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Afghanistan war withdrawal.

Biden was a U.S. senator for more than three decades before becoming vice president to Barack Obama in 2009. He was known as a key negotiator on legislation.

As first reported by Politico, Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, circulated a document in July that outlined his counteroffer of $1.5 trillion that put restrictions on spending before money meant to aid the coronavirus pandemic recovery is spent.

He and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona are seen as the pathway to passing the social safety net expansion, commonly referred to as the "reconciliation bill" as it relies on a procedure that will allow it to pass with 50 votes. Both Manchin and Sinema support the smaller infrastructure package that progressives are blocking until they get a broader agreement.

Last month, the Senate in a broad bipartisan vote, including support from U.S. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, advanced the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. But Republican leaders in the House are pushing party members to vote against it, which leaves little room for Democratic defectors.

On the larger proposal, Democrats hold 50 seats in the Senate, so without any GOP support they have no votes to spare. Republicans are in agreement that they will vote against the reconciliation bill, even if details aren't hammered out.

Biden heads to Capitol to lobby lawmakers
U.S. President Joe Biden is going directly to Congress to try to get support for his proposals. Above, Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium in the White House on September 27. Anna Moneymaker/getty Images