President Joe Biden on Friday said Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending bill will likely not pass Congress this year.
“To be honest with you, we’re probably not going to get $3.5 trillion this year,” Biden said. “We’re going to get something less than that. But I’m going to negotiate, I’m going to get it done.” Biden’s words mark the first apparent concession to centrist holdouts Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), who took issue with the size and scope of the bill.
Senate Democrats had planned on passing the massive bill via budget reconciliation, a process that allows a simple majority of senators to enact legislation as part of the congressional budget resolution. The bill faced opposition from Manchin and Sinema for including left-wing policy proposals such as federal subsidies for child care, paid leave, and health care, as well as funds for green energy and climate change initiatives.
Biden’s remarks put him out of step with the rest of his administration, which has signaled optimism about passing the bill. Just a few hours after Biden’s comments, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN that the administration “plan[s] on getting both of these packages done, passed into law, signed, and starting to get the impacts out to the American people.” She added that the president remained focused on passing the bill before year’s end.
“The president is out there selling this package, conveying to the American people his commitment to getting this done,” Psaki said. “And that’s what you heard him say today.”
Biden traveled to Connecticut on Friday to deliver a speech at a child care center touting one of his economic package’s measures to provide universal pre-K. He suggested, however, that free community college, another proposal in the social spending bill, may have to be axed.
“I don’t know that I can get it done, but I also have proposed free community college, like you’ve done here in the state of Connecticut,” Biden said.
The $3.5 trillion bill is one of two large bills Biden anticipated signing during his first year in office. The other, a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, passed the Senate in August.