President Biden apparently has no idea when and if his signature legislation, a $3.5 trillion social spending spree, will get a vote in Congress this week.
Biden was confronted by a reporter Monday on the progress of the bill. His response shows a lack of awareness about its status, and at the very least, how to give an answer that reassures America he is ‘on the ball.’
“Do you think you’ll have a plan before Wednesday?” Biden was asked.
“With the grace of God and the goodwill of the neighbors,” he responded.
Biden was then queried if he expected a vote this week.
“What do you think? I don’t know,” he responded.
However, the president is fresh off a meeting with lawmakers on Sunday about the potential to broker a deal on the budget blowout.
A White House official said Biden hosted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin on Sunday at his Delaware home for breakfast. Biden claimed that there were “some things to work out but it went well.”
“This would be very, very positive to get it done before the trip,” Biden said.
The president hopes to have a deal in place before he leaves for Europe on Thursday for summits in Rome, Italy and Glasgow, Scotland. The timing of the president’s trip is questionable due to a number of factors – both international and domestic. CBS reported that the president’s spending package is facing significant headwinds from senators in his own party.
“Democrats are working to reach consensus on a framework for Mr. Biden’s domestic policy agenda, which will require support from Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both moderate senators who objected to the package’s initial $3.5 trillion price tag,” CBS reported.
“But there is daylight between Manchin and Democratic leaders over the topline number, as the West Virginia senator has said he supports a $1.5 trillion plan, while Mr. Biden set a price range for the legislation at roughly $2 trillion,” the report added. “In addition to trimming the social spending package, Democrats are also hashing out the details of how to pay for it, as the White House faced resistance from Sinema over its plan to raise the corporate tax rate and top income rate rate for the wealthiest Americans.”
President Biden has been touting since early October that he was going to ‘work like hell’ on getting the infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion dollar spending bill through Congress. However, the president has been going back to Delaware nearly every weekend that he can, whether to rest outside of the media spotlight or to avoid mandatory reporting on White House visitors.
Despite the White House’s claims to the contrary, party insiders say the president has been almost completely disengaged with Capitol Hill proceedings.
“The president needs to pick up the phone and call people,” Politico reported on Monday, citing a ‘moderate source close to the talks.’ The person said the White House has been in “listening mode” for too long and needed to ‘bang heads’ to get the bills across the finish line.
While it may be encouraging to the Democratic Party faithful that President Biden at least spent part of the weekend trying to hammer out a deal on his pricy spending bill, the president’s trip to attend G20 meetings comes at a time when his attention is needed to address multiple crises at home.
President Biden recently confirmed he will go to the G20 meetings overseas, along with the leaders of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Korea, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the European Union.
However, multiple G20 leaders will be skipping the summit to attend to issues back home: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japan’s new prime minister Fumio Kishida, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. They have all announced that they definitely will not attend, although they may virtually attend sessions. Other leaders not expected to attend include Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Biden should take the hint from the other national leaders and get his own house in order before worrying about the rest of the world. It would be a refreshing start if the president actually knew what was going on.