WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden said Saturday he will hit this road this week to sell his mammoth spending plans, which are in jeopardy in Congress amid a fight between centrist and progressive factions of his Democratic Party.
Biden struck an optimistic note as he spoke of prospects for passage of a huge infrastructure package and even larger social spending bill that are central to his political legacy.
Speaking as he left the White House to travel to Delaware, Biden said he was “going to work like hell to make sure we get both these passed.
“And I think we will get them passed,” the president told reporters.
“I’m going to be going around the country this week making the case why it’s so important,” added Biden, who has been criticized for not doing more to sell the bills to everyday people.
“There’s nothing in any of these pieces of legislation that is radical, that is unreasonable when you look at it individually,” Biden said of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, and the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” bill allocating money for education, child care, clean energy and other issues.
The impasse on the Democratic side is rooted in political differences over how much the government should spend, but also on the sheer lack of trust between competing factions.
But Biden reiterated, “I believe I can get this done. I believe when the American people are aware of what’s in it, we can get it done.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki added in a statement that Biden and his team would “continue close engagement” with both House and Senate lawmakers through the weekend.
On the other pressing issue facing the president — an urgent deadline to raise the national debt limit ahead of a default date of October 18 — Biden called on Republicans to join his party in approving an increase. A US default on its debt would be unprecedented and have catastrophic effects on the US and world economies.
Usually this is not a complicated issue. But this year Republicans are refusing to join Democrats in granting authorization, while Democrats argue they should not have to bear responsibility alone.
“I hope the Republicans won’t be so irresponsible as to refuse to raise the debt limit and to filibuster the debt limit,” the president said.
“That would be totally unconscionable, never been done before and so I hope that won’t happen,” Biden said.