Progressives rallied behind Biden's agenda. Now he’s gotta sell them on a compromise.

Instead, he stressed that he wanted to prepare both bills first before voting on a single one.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks – we’ll make it,” Biden told reporters during the Capitol visit.

Biden’s trip to the hill and downplaying the need for quick action underscored the collective strength that the progressive Democratic Group in the House of Representatives now has in a tightly segregated chamber. And it raised questions about whether these progressives would continue to stand together to oppose Biden’s call for a more modest law of reconciliation – issues that Biden wanted to address head-on, stressing that the bill would move his economic agenda significantly forward.

“I wrote the damn bill … Even a smaller bill can make historical investments – historical investments in childcare, daycare, clean energy. They do a lot of things, ”said Biden, according to someone familiar with his remarks. “We can be consistent and build on it [the Covid-relief bill], do not withdraw. “

“I know a little about the legislative process,” he said. “I don’t remember that we don’t have to compromise on fundamental issues.”

The comments come at the end of a week that began with great expectations – but also great uncertainty – for Biden’s agenda. It ended with the fate of that agenda still in the air. Biden entered the Capitol on Friday with a roar, an entourage of nine White House aides in tow. Ultimately, he went out empty-handed, a deadline set by spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi had come and gone, and tensions between his party’s factions are still evident.

“He was trying to get both sides to understand reality. But now I think people on both sides are upset, ”said MP Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) in an interview. “I appreciate the effort to bring both sides together, but it doesn’t seem to work.”

Moderates expressed frustration that Biden tacitly agreed with the progressives to halt the infrastructure package that the Senate had passed with the full support of Democrats as well as 19 Republicans.

In his remarks to lawmakers, Biden said that without the support of the House progressives, he believed there would not be enough votes to pass the infrastructure bill in that chamber. A source familiar with his comments said Biden added that if he felt that this was where the votes for the infrastructure were, he would have pushed for it.

The White House also argued this week that the progressives’ demands – to expand childcare services, take action against climate change, and expand aid to the elderly – were merely a reflection of Biden’s own Build Back Better plan.

Now the goodwill that the White House has built with the left is to be put to the test.

“Progressives were Biden’s best friend this week for holding the ceiling high,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “The Standard is going to be less than a dollar and up, are we going to fund all of the major priorities the Democrats have promised with a sustainable amount and get them off the ground?”

Zac Petkanas, a senior advocate for the Invest in America Action advocacy group that worked to pass the reconciliation package, admitted that Biden was telling progressives to expect less. But, he argued, he also told the moderates that they had to give more.

“This was a rally for members of Congress to get this done,” Petkanas said. Part of Biden’s message, he said, was to convey that “the politics of job creation and cutting taxes and costs is too important and tied to a political imperative moving towards mid-term elections. The fate of everyone here is linked to one another. ”

Ben Tulchin, a Democratic pollster who has worked for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Among others, said the progressives had been smart to assert themselves against the party’s social spending law and suggested that the negotiations cease Now stepping up around the reconciliation package – Biden should fight harder for what is probably his best opportunity to tackle a range of programs from health care to education to climate.

“I was hoping that he would learn the lessons from Obama, which is that this is a cause to be fought for. You can’t just negotiate with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. You have to go to war. That’s it, ”said Tulchin.

Such a struggle, Tulchin said, could include trips to the senators’ home states in West Virginia and Arizona to deliver a message to residents: “You all support this, and your two senators should too!”

But Tulchin admitted that it was not part of Biden’s nature to beat the two senators. And, given the political calculations and compromises the left now has to make, he also argued that the passage of the two bills would be an integral part of the Democrats’ push against the historic political headwinds of the upcoming midterm elections.

“A win will definitely help,” he said. “And it will still do a lot of good. But you will have to cut out a lot of things. So they have to sell the benefits that they have delivered. “

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