President Biden was actively prevented by staffers from taking questions from Democrats during a meeting in the caucus room on Capitol Hill, addressing his party’s rift over infrastructure spending and the passage of his “Build Back Better” agenda.
Politico congressional reporter Sarah Ferris tweeted on the less-than-normal occurrence, “INSIDE the caucus: At the end of his remarks, BIDEN offered to take questions from members but his staff jumped in. He didn’t take any questions.”
It is a common occurrence now for Biden’s handlers to prevent him from taking questions from reporters or conservatives. This time it was from his own party while on Capitol Hill and it raised eyebrows and furthered frustration. Biden was cut off from Democrats’ questions once before while conducting a remote video conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not long after he took office.
In his brief comments to reporters on Friday following his meeting with the House Democratic caucus, Biden said there was no rush to pass the infrastructure and social spending bills.
“I’m tellin’ ya we’re gonna get this done,” Biden snapped at reporters as he left the caucus meeting. “It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter whether it’s six minutes, six days, or six weeks. We’re gonna get it done.”
INSIDE the caucus:
At the end of his remarks, BIDEN offered to take questions from members but his staff jumped in.
He didn't take any questions.
— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) October 1, 2021
The President spoke to congressional Democrats for approximately 30 minutes concerning the bills. Although he would not take questions, his stance on the stalemate over his agenda and his personal appearance on Capitol Hill seemed to calm leftist nerves a bit.
Biden told Democrats that “I know a little bit about the legislative process,” a source told the AP.
According to Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the president also pointed out that when he moved into the Oval Office, he installed pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, presidents who led a “deeply divided country and the biggest economic transformation – and that’s just the kind of moment we’re in.”
Progressives are demanding that the two bills pass together or not at all. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are adamant that the $3.5 trillion social spending bill is too expensive and they will not support it. Manchin is digging in his heels and won’t budge over $1.5 trillion as his top number for the bill.
“Manchin and Sinema — should we just call them co-president at this point?” one Democrat snarled when leaving the meeting, according to The Hill. “Is that what it’s come down to?”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has had to embarrassingly delay the vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill three times this week because she did not have the votes to bring it to the floor for passage. She grudgingly admitted, “more time is needed.”
Following Friday’s confab between Biden and Democrats, negotiations will reportedly continue for weeks if not months to get the two bills through.
(Video Credit: NBC News)
Biden is now throwing out $1.9 to $2.3 trillion to fund his social spending package, slashing $1 trillion from the pricetag. Progressives will have to cut away at their wishlist to meet that goal.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), one of the centrists who pushed to vote on the bipartisan bill this week, said that Biden told Democrats he wants both bills to pass together, according to The Hill.
“So we are trying to pass this bill, but we heard the President of the United States say that he wants to link both of them together,” Cuellar noted.
“I think what he was trying to do [was] he was trying to tell progressives: Lower your expectations. And he was telling the moderates: They’ve got to be put together,” he explained. “He was trying to mediate.”
“He was really clear that we need to get both bills done,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, stated.
Following the meeting, Rep. Mike Quigley summed up Biden’s attitude on the issue, “I think the number one message was, if you don’t compromise, you get zero.”
Frustration was palpable among a number of Democrats over the perceived lack of urgency to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“No one had a specific timeline, but it’s not today,” remarked progressive Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA).
“It’s not a success,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said during an interview with Politico. “We need to pass both these bills, that’s going to be our objective.”
Criticism raged on social media over Biden’s continued refusal to take questions:
The President can’t even go into a meeting with his own party without having jr. handlers around to tackle him. Not normal.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 1, 2021
So who in his "staff" is actually in charge? https://t.co/8BWyLqTVIH
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 1, 2021
If your staff thinks you’re not capable of answering questions from friendly partisans about your core agenda they’re basically conceding you’re not capable of running the country. https://t.co/NFDw3xiLQq
— Stephen Miller (@StephenM) October 1, 2021
Biden’s handlers won’t even let him take questions behind closed doors https://t.co/B0THN9N6lx
— Jake Schneider (@jacobkschneider) October 1, 2021
8 day story if it's a Republican https://t.co/eA3WQWzDAS
— Nathan Wurtzel (@NathanWurtzel) October 1, 2021
Why does he allow himself to be man handled by staff? They work for him! This is really becoming worrisome that he can’t speak for himself.
— Steve (@Steve04897622) October 1, 2021
“Vanilla or chocolate chip ice cream, Mr. President?”
— UnfortunateNecessity (@DireNecessity) October 2, 2021
‘No joke, folks. Not fooling.’
— JoeReynoldsChief (@JoeReynolds2020) October 1, 2021
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