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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Biden insists stalled $1tn infrastructure bill will get done


President Biden has insisted his $1tn (£750bn) infrastructure bill will eventually be passed by Congress amid an impasse in his own party.

“Whether it takes six minutes, six days, or six weeks, we’ll get it done,” he said after a surprise visit to Congress on Friday.

Some Democrats are refusing to support the plan until a separate $3.5 trillion welfare and climate change bill is passed.

However, centrists in the party want to spend less money on these issues.

On Friday evening, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted that “more time is needed” to reach a compromise.

The vote on the infrastructure bill was postponed on Thursday, and it was unclear when another vote would be held.

Mr. Biden’s visit to Capitol Hill on Friday included a private meeting with House Democrats in an attempt to break the impasse.

According to media reports, he attempted to encourage compromise between the factions.

According to Reuters, Mr. Biden has proposed reducing the welfare and climate bill to around $2 trillion, saying that “even a smaller bill can make historic investments.”

The bipartisan $1 trillion public works bill, which would apply to routine transportation, broadband, water systems, and other projects, has widespread support – but liberal (or progressive) Democrats are linking its passage to the passage of their more ambitious welfare and climate change legislation.

That bill would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy, with the proceeds going toward a wide range of social programmes such as early childhood education, universal preschool, government-funded two-year college education, paid family and medical leave, expanded government health insurance, and environmental spending.

The White House cancelled Mr. Biden’s trip to Chicago earlier this week so that he could focus on whipping the necessary votes.

Senator Joe Manchin, representing the centrist position, stated that he was willing to meet the president less than halfway, at $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. He called the proposed figure of $3.5 trillion “fiscal insanity.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, a leading liberal, tweeted on Friday that the $3.5 trillion bill was “the fate of the planet.”

“There will be no serious effort to reduce carbon emissions and transition our energy system away from fossil fuels without a strong reconciliation bill,” he said.

“There can be no infrastructure bill without a strong reconciliation bill,” he added.

Mr. Biden’s party has the smallest of majorities in both the House and Senate, and it is eager to implement its signature policies before next year’s congressional elections, when Republicans will try to retake control.

Congress did pass a temporary measure to keep the federal government funded until early December on Thursday.

Federal museums, national parks and safety programmes would have had to close without the funding, which also includes hurricane relief and help for Afghan refugees.

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