Biden faces critical next 2 week agenda

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WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden enters two crucial weeks for his ambitious agenda, rushing to conclude controversial negotiations in Congress ahead of the two national deadlines and a chance to showcase his administration’s achievements on the world stage.

Biden and his fellow Democrats are struggling to bridge party divisions by the end of the month to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a broader set of social services. The president hopes to secure the two before Air Force One takes off to Europe on October 28 for a pair of world leaders’ summits, including the most ambitious climate change meeting in years.

But that goal has been compromised by rifts among Democrats, jeopardizing the fate of promised new ambitious efforts to tackle climate change. There is also growing anxiety within the party over a gubernatorial contest in Virginia and looming Senate fights over federal debt limit and government funding that could prevent getting across the finish line. on the president’s program.

Biden is trying to stabilize his presidency after a difficult period marked by the tumultuous end of the war in Afghanistan, a diplomatic row with a longtime ally and an increase in COVID-19 cases that have rocked the country’s economic recovery and brought down his figures in the polls.

His team continued with their strategy – a strategy that has served them well during the campaign and earlier this year – of blocking out outside noise to stay focused on a single mission, this time to adopt the two-part package that will give the Democrats a platform on who will run in next year’s midterm election.

“These bills, in my opinion, are literally about competitiveness versus complacency, opportunity versus decadence, and running the world or continuing to let the world move by us,” Biden said on Friday while pushing legislation in Connecticut.

Yet beneath the White House’s pleas for patience – reminding people that hard things take time – lies a bubbling sense of urgency that a deal must be struck quickly.

For the White House, there are explicit target dates, including a month-end deadline for transportation funding and Biden’s next overseas trip. But there are also more abstract imperatives: to prove that Democrats can keep their promises to voters and protect Biden’s declining political capital.

With new urgency, the administration has sent signals to Capitol Hill in recent days that it is time to conclude negotiations, that a deal must be reached, according to two White House officials who spoke under cover of anonymity as they were not allowed to publicly discuss private conversations. Biden himself has expressed his impatience and will increase his own awareness this week to push lawmakers to find a compromise and put the bills to a vote, officials said.

West Wing officials are still optimistic about a deal being struck, but there are also fears that the complicated and drawn-out negotiation has overshadowed the tangible benefits of what Biden aims to offer voters.

Biden sought to resolve some of this when he traveled to Hartford, Connecticut last week to present initiatives to dramatically reduce the cost of early childhood care – perhaps one of the only pieces of legislation that is a lock to make the final package.

Even Democratic leaders are divided over how best to lower the overall price of the package in order to gain more votes. Biden said on Friday he preferred to include all of the wishlist proposals, but cut the length of programs to cut costs. His thought is that a future Congress can vote later to expand the programs that the American people find popular.

But days earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the opposite route – approving a smaller set of programs to last longer.

Some Democrats have been pushing for the bipartisan infrastructure deal to be passed by Oct. 31, even if all social services are unresolved, a move many progressives don’t like because they might lose influence on this latest bill.

The fate of the provisions relating to climate change is particularly perilous.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s objections to a program to accelerate the country’s transition away from fossil fuels threaten the heart of Biden’s plans to tackle climate change just before he tries to assert leadership American on the matter at the next world conference in Scotland.

The very thin Democrats’ margins in both houses of Congress have empowered individual lawmakers like Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, upsetting fellow lawmakers and the White House. White House aides have not abandoned the clean energy program but are exploring other ways to chain together a set of policies to cut emissions, officials said.

Dropping the provisions could hurt Biden in Glasgow, at a summit that the administration has touted as a vital opportunity not only to tackle climate change, but to reaffirm US leadership on the issue after four years of decline. President Donald Trump. The United States will make a major imprint on the rally – including former President Barack Obama – but it risks falling behind European countries that have taken more concrete steps to cut emissions.

Biden’s stopover in Scotland in early November will follow his participation in a summit of world leaders in Rome. But Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to skip the rallies – delaying the first meeting between the leaders of the two superpowers – could diminish their relevance. Still, Biden is set to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Italy as the men seek to restore relations after a US submarine deal with Australia scuttled a French contract and resulted in the French briefly withdrawing their ambassador from Washington. .

Virginia’s Nov. 2 gubernatorial election is also looming, which is seen as a referendum on Biden and Democrats’ chances of regaining control of Congress next year.

Former state governor Terry McAuliffe is in a tighter-than-expected race with Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin in a state Biden won by 10 points last year.

McAuliffe has been surprisingly public in his criticism of the administration’s legislative strategy, urging Democrats to pass the infrastructure bill ahead of election day to give it something to show voters. White House officials privately expect McAuliffe to come out with a narrow victory and believe they can ignore concerns about a smaller-than-expected margin of victory.

But a close result, or a victory for Youngkin, could rattle Democrats unsure of Biden’s political streaks – potentially making them less likely to take risky votes for his platform – and encourage Republicans to move towards the midterms.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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