It is a rare occurrence for the American President to appear at the Capitol. But there is not much time left for Joe Biden to convince the opponents in his party. He made his way to Parliament.
With a visit to Congress, US President Joe Biden attempted to save his reform agenda, which was endangered in the face of internal party trench warfare. Biden met with members of his Democratic Party in the Capitol on Friday for talks about his billion dollar infrastructure and social packages. “We’ll make it,” said the 78-year-old in front of journalists. “It doesn’t matter if it takes six minutes, six days or six weeks.”
The fact that the President appears in person in Congress is extremely unusual – and shows the seriousness of the situation. Biden wants a $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure package and a $ 3.5 trillion welfare package through Congress. Both projects could fail because of a bitter dispute between the progressive and the moderate democratic wing.
Leftists are calling for social reforms
The House of Representatives was supposed to pass the infrastructure package already approved in the Senate on Thursday, which provides billions for roads, bridges, train routes and the expansion of broadband Internet. Left MPs are threatening to let the infrastructure package fail if the planned social reforms do not move forward at the same time.
They fear that the reform package for education, families, better childcare, an expansion of the state health insurance and climate protection in the Senate could be petered out once the infrastructure package is approved and they no longer have any leverage. Because two Democratic senators – the middle politicians Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – reject the social package as too expensive. Some call the project “fiscal madness” and will not approve more than $ 1.5 trillion.
The power of two MPs
Because the Democrats in the Senate only have a wafer-thin majority, they cannot afford a single dissent – which gives Manchin and Sinema an incredible amount of power. With their stance, the two senators, who jointly have been nicknamed “Manchinema”, have drawn the wrath of many Democrats, especially as they could single-handedly bury Biden’s reform agenda.
For days the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress have been feverishly looking for a compromise. The chairman of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, wanted to vote on the infrastructure package on Friday. However, she should only put the text to the vote if she is sure of a majority.
The dispute over the two gigantic investment packages is not Biden’s only concern. The USA is also threatened with insolvency in mid-October if the debt ceiling is not raised by then. The Democrats have to fight here against the opposition of the opposition Republicans.
Only budget lock averted
On the other hand, it was possible to avert a budget freeze at the last minute, which would have threatened from Friday: On Thursday, Congress passed a transitional budget that ensures funding for the federal authorities until December 3.
Without the interim solution, the USA would have slipped into a so-called shutdown. Then hundreds of thousands of federal employees would have been sent on unpaid compulsory leave, and numerous public institutions such as authorities, museums and national parks would have had to close until further notice.