US Prez Biden, Democrats back at it, scaling back $3.5 trillion plan

US Prez Biden, Democrats back at it, scaling back $3.5 trillion plan

Washington DC: Democrats were back at it Friday, doggedly determined to rescue a scaled-back version of President Joe Biden's USD 3.5 trillion government overhaul and salvage a related public works bill after a long night of frantic negotiations resulted in no deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met privately with the party's lawmakers for a morning session to assess the path forward. She had earlier vowed there would be a vote today on the companion USD 1 trillion infrastructure bill that is popular but has become snared in the broader debate. But the situation was highly uncertain, and no schedule was set.

Holdout Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia sank hopes for a compromise late Thursday, despite hours of shuttle diplomacy with White House aides on Capitol Hill, when he refused to budge on his demands for a smaller overall package, around USD 1.5 trillion. That's too meager for progressive lawmakers who are refusing to vote on the public works measure without a commitment to Biden's broader framework on the bigger bill.

Talks swirled over a compromise in the USD2 trillion range. Because of the ongoing negotiations, Biden opted to remain in Washington on Friday instead of traveling to his Delaware home as he often does on weekends. His public approval rating has dropped, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center. We understand that we're going to have to get everybody on board in order to be able to close this deal," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. We're waiting for that.

The president and his party are facing a potentially embarrassing setback and perhaps a politically devastating collapse of the whole enterprise if they cannot resolve the standoff.

At immediate risk was the promised vote on the first piece of Biden's proposal, the slimmer USD1 trillion public works bill, a roads-and-bridges package.

Biden's bigger proposal is a years-in-the-making collection of Democratic priorities, a sweeping rewrite of the nation's tax and spending policies that would essentially raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and plow that money back into government health care, education and other programs, touching the lives of countless Americans.

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