The closer: Biden in familiar position, to unify party on $3.5T

If he is to deliver on his domestic policy ambitions, it is now that President Joe Biden must close the deal. He must bring together centrist and progressive Democratic coalitions in Congress.

The closer: Biden in familiar position, to unify party on $3.5T

While the Senate and House continue to debate the president's $3.5 trillion plan for a rewrite in the nation's tax- and spending priorities, Biden's fellow Democrats are calling on him to do what he's best at: unite the party's many and sometimes unwieldly factions into one working majority that would pass landmark legislation.

It might just work.

After meeting at the White House this week, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) stated that "I think everyone in the room thought it was important to get done -- and I don't believe there was any discussion on that."

This is a familiar position for Biden. He was not the most popular or exciting candidate for the presidency in 2020 but he was the one that Democrats from all wing of the party rallied behind. They recognized in the veteran leader that they had the best chance to defeat Donald Trump.

Biden now gathers the same diverse voices that make-up the party's tenuous hold on Congress to do so again. Biden hosted a number of legislators in the Oval Office this week. He cajoled and wooed, handed out chocolate chip cookies wrapped with the presidential seal, and made his case.

Biden was left to help bridge the party divide, as he has done before.

The political reality is at stake, and there was much that could not be said in the five-hour-plus talks at the White House. Biden's first year as president is at stake, but so is his party's future political direction. The midterm elections are less than a year away. It's up only to Democrats to approve the plan with Republicans in complete opposition.

It will be difficult to pass the "Build back Better" plan. However, it is too large to fail.

"Failure," as Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer repeatedly warned, "isn't an option."

Biden can draw from his years of experience as a senator, vice-president, and president, and use them to leverage the soft skills and hard-knuckled negotiations strategies that he has developed over his long tenure. He is well-known for using both.

The Monday deadline is set for Congress to vote on his first domestic plan piece, a $1 trillion public works bill that was lost in the debates over the larger package.

The centrist Democrats are urging swift passage of the public work bill, which is popular for providing money for roads and broadband as well as public water projects. Progressives withhold their votes for the $1 billion measure because they consider it inadequate, unless it is linked to a larger, more comprehensive package.

Biden was in deal-making mode and told progressives that he would look into their appeal for a delay while pressing centrists on to conclude their talks and agree on a price.

Biden met with moderates and went through the room looking for the top number they could live with. He declared, "Find it," Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. recalled the president saying. "Just work on this, give me a number."

Manchin stated that everyone is just working in good will right now -- the president has all of them working in goodwill."

Biden's week was dominated inwardly by foreign policy. This includes his U.N. General Assembly speech, his virtual international summit on vaccines, and his efforts to restore relations with France following a contentious submarine deal with Australia. His lawmaker list was not far away, and he compiled a list to identify his sticking points.

As deadlines become more clear, so does the White House's bottom line. No Democrat should be the one who holds out whose "no vote tanks" are a top priority for the president.

"We are in agreement with 90%," stated Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), who attended the White House meeting for moderates. "This is about delivering on an investment that will last a lifetime."

It wasn't going to be easy.

Because of the urgent nature of the pandemic, and the centrality of the measure to his agenda for the first 100 day, the president was able to get all Democrats to sign his first signature piece, a $1.9 billion COVID relief bill. The president was forced to intervene to ease Manchin's worries at the last minute.

This time, the White House's approach was different.

This is because the benefits of this time are not as well-defined. There are many reasons: lower costs for Americans who buy their own insurance policies, dental care for seniors, and tax breaks for childcare.

The package's total cost, $3.5 trillion, will cover spending for 10 years. It will be paid largely by higher taxes on corporations, people with incomes above $400,000 and other tax increases. This money will go back into what Biden considers overdue investments in America's infrastructure and its citizens.

Some moderate Democrats are scared by the high price tag. Although the total may shrink, it is not certain which parts will be lost.

"What is important to know about President Biden? He is more inclined than most to have one-on-1, private conversations with people rather than to have public debates because that's what he has always done and that is how he will get this done," said sad Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc).

"While I understand that mudwrestling is a great idea for primetime news, it's not the way he works. That's why I believe he will be successful and get it done.

Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, announced on Thursday that they have reached a framework agreement with the White House regarding how to pay for this package. It is basically a list of options from the tax writing committees that can either be dialed up, or down depending on the final package.

Biden requested that the framework be completed by Monday so lawmakers will work non-stop over the weekend.

Biden has given them the task of prioritizing and delivering the good over perfection, similar to the choice he made for voters last fall when they voted for him.

The Democrats are now asked to rally behind what they feel is flawed, because the alternative options are too grim to face.

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