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Biden’s agenda risks derailed by setbacks on Capitol Hill

As he approaches 10 months in office, President Joe Biden finds himself at a critical juncture with multiple aspects of his legislative agenda stalled or in jeopardy on Capitol Hill.

“We’re in this stalemate right now, and we’re going to have to push through these two laws,” Biden said Friday, referring to his infrastructure program.

With the prospect of a government shutdown in less than a week, the president’s infrastructure program is also threatened by a stalemate within his own party, bipartisan negotiations on police reform have collapsed, reform elections and voting rights is blocked in the face of Republicans. opposition, and there is currently no clear way forward on immigration reform.

“The President has won the most votes of any candidate in American history on his program, and he and his team fight for the entirety of it every day with the support of a strong majority of the people. American on every issue, ”said Andew Bates. , deputy White House press secretary, in a statement to ABC News.

He added that Biden is “not discouraged by obstruction of lobbyists for the interests of big money or Republicans in Congress, and has always said that none of this would be easy.”


Yet Biden’s top legislative priority to rebuild and invest in the country’s infrastructure is faltering.

A $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which has already passed the Senate, is supposed to hit the House floor on Monday. Progressive Democrats in the House, however, have said they will not support the infrastructure bill unless a social spending program is also passed.

Democratic leaders said on Thursday they had agreed on a “framework” for the money behind this larger $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, although that figure may not be fixed . Moderate Democrats have challenged the price as well as aspects of the legislation, which deal with spending on various social issues, including climate change and healthcare.

Disagreements within the party over the way forward led to several meetings between Biden and lawmakers in the White House on Wednesday.

Police reform

Biparty negotiations on police reform collapsed without showing anything on Wednesday, nearly four months after the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder – a date Biden also once set as a never-materialized deadline to see plans for police reform on his desk in the Oval Office.

Even with what Senator Cory Booker, DN.J., called “significant progress” in the negotiations, Booker permanently called off talks a day after Democrats made a final offer on the issue.

Lawmakers on both sides working to create a reform framework were ultimately unable to agree on some points. The issues of qualified immunity and the involvement of police unions have proven to be insurmountable political differences.

Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., said on Wednesday Democrats had not given Republicans more time to consider outstanding issues in the plan and instead “called and raised their hands.”

Booker said in a statement Wednesday that he wanted to explore other ways to reform the police.

Right to vote

Despite majorities in both houses of Congress, multiple attempts by Democrats to push forward election and voting rights legislation have stalled in the face of Republican opposition.

In their latest push, Senate Democrats last week introduced yet another version of voting rights legislation to push back on new restrictions in Republican-led states.

Introduced earlier this month, the Freedom to Vote Act is an amended version of the For The People Act, a massive electoral reform bill that failed in June after Republicans in the Senate voted unanimously against it. But the reintroduced legislation still includes a ban on partisan gerrymandering and measures on campaign finance and election security, among other large-scale changes to elections in the United States.

In March, Biden signed an executive order ordering federal agencies to expand voter registration opportunities and participate in the electoral process.

Biden lobbied for voting rights – a key post-2020 agenda – during a speech in Philadelphia in June while defending the For The People Act.

“We’re going to face another test in 2022: a new wave of unprecedented voter suppression and crude and sustained electoral subversion. We need to prepare now,” Biden told the crowd at the National Constitution Center.

Moderate Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V., said last week that he was working to rally GOP support for the free vote bill, as the bill will likely need 60 votes to move forward. But he’s unlikely to garner enough bipartisan support to pass.

Immigration reform

While the Biden administration now faces strong backlash over the mass deportation of Haitian migrants to the southern border and footage of aggressive tactics used by border patrol agents on horseback, the president’s legislative agenda on immigration reform faces no clear path.

Democrats’ latest attempt to address immigration reform as part of the reconciliation process – which allows legislation to pass by simple majority – was blocked by the Senate parliamentarian on Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday Democrats aimed to find a workaround to the parliamentarian’s decision.

Government shutdown

Now, a government shutdown could become reality as early as next week.

Democrats have linked the extension of government funding, which expires in late September, to increasing the country’s debt limit.

Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have said they will not increase the country’s debt ceiling because they oppose spending proposed by Democrats.

Raising the debt ceiling pays for past spending, not future spending, and Republicans have helped raise it in the past.

The White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday sent advice to federal government agencies in the event of a government shutdown.

“We are doing all we can to prevent a government shutdown,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing on Thursday. “We are right now trying to get a historic package that will solve many of the issues the American people care about across the finish line.”

ABC News’ Mariam Khan, Ben Gittleson, Trish Turner, Rachel Scott, Briana Stewart, Michelle Stodart, Benjamin Siegel and Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.