President Biden hits road — again — in government spending plans pitch

President Biden hedged his bets on his foundering, signature big spending plans Friday by preparing to barnstorm across the country next week to sell it — again — after rushing to meet with warring Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will travel next week “to make the case for his Build Back Better agenda” directly to the American people following Thursday night’s last-minute delay of a House vote on Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

The announcement came less than an hour before Biden addressed the House Democratic caucus in a desperate bid to strike a deal for passage of both the infrastructure package and his $3.5 trillion budget bill, which contains a slew of new social spending.

“These are his proposals. These are his bold ideas. This is his plan that he’s outlined,” Psaki said during her daily briefing.

President Joe Biden returns to the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, after attending a meeting with the House Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill.
President Joe Biden returns to the White House after meeting with the House Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill on Oct. 1, 2021.

Psaki said the trip would involve “at least one day, maybe two days of travel” but said details about what cities and states Biden would visit had yet to be finalized.

When asked if the travel plan amounted to a “concession” that the legislation wouldn’t get passed over the weekend, Psaki didn’t deny it.

“It’s a conveying that the president is going to have to continue to go out there and make the case to the public about what is in these packages, no matter when it passes,” she said.

Psaki also didn’t deny reports that Biden has been privately telling Democrats to “hold their ground” on their respective positions with regard to the spending plans.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is among the senators who have not been happy with the size of the spending bill.
Andrew Harnik/AP

“I can assure you there is no moment in time where any senior member of this White House was arguing for anyone to vote against a piece of the president’s agenda,” Psaki said.

“What is also true is that we have been communicating with such a broad range of members from across the caucus that often we know where different parts of the caucus stand.”

Psaki added: “And so, we have been in many ways liaisons, along with leadership, to convey [that] this is where this group stands, this is where that group may stand and conveying [that] so that we can help reach a unifying point and get across the finish line.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the cities Biden will visit have not yet been finalized.
Evan Vucci/AP

Moderates — most notably Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are opposed to the size of the budget bill, while progressives led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) want assurances it will pass the Senate before they’ll vote for the infrastructure bill.