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Dem Factions Look to Biden to Broker Infrastructure Truce

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With his entire domestic agenda hanging in the balance, President Joe Biden is finally doing what many Democrats have been begging him to do for weeks: convening members of his fractious party and forcing them to work out their differences over a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure package.

On Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the plans, Biden will host lawmakers at the White House, bringing in Democrats from various factions of the party for a series of meetings as the infrastructure and social welfare package enters its diciest stretch yet.

The stakes of the talks—intended to help craft a path forward for Biden’s enormous twin infrastructure plans—couldn’t be higher.

There are only five days until there’s a deadline, imposed by House moderates, to vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate passed last month. But factions within the Democratic caucus are warring over that bill’s relationship to a broader, yet-unfinished $3.5 trillion bill chock-full of progressive priorities on health care, climate change, and the economy.

Liberals are already promising to block the former bill unless and until the latter is ready to pass, too. But moderates have their own gambit, threatening to blow up the entire arrangement in order to pass the narrower infrastructure bill as soon as possible.

This long-simmering game of intra-party chicken exploded as lawmakers returned to Washington this week, with members of each faction issuing their own ultimatums about what they could vote for and how—each one potentially significant given Democrats’ four-seat House majority and the tied Senate.

Now, many Democrats feel that the only person who can get their party’s agenda back on track is the leader of their party. And they are relieved that he is finally calling meetings at the White House in order to right the ship.

“I think that would help,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), asked about Biden getting everyone in a room together. “I think everyone wants the president’s agenda to succeed… no one wants to see this not work out.”

Before that news broke, Democrats were baffled as to why the president had, to that point, left Congress to descend into finger-pointing and threats.

“Without the White House’s involvement, it’s going to be super fucking complicated,” said a senior Democratic aide, speaking anonymously to candidly describe lawmakers’ thinking. “When you have a pissing match between progressives and moderates, you need an adult in the room, someone to come in and steer the ship—particularly because it’s their signature bill!”

Another Democratic aide said that Biden, as party leader, has a duty to set the agenda.

“He campaigned as ‘Union Joe’ who didn't care about Twitter. He's not governing that way,” the aide said. “There seems to be a desire to not take sides and not upset any outside group who wants their priorities included in these bills, but we're a party of factions right now and he needs to tell us what........

© The Daily Beast

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