President Joe Biden will take the brief trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to meet with Democrats on Capitol Hill on Friday, which comes as some lawmakers in the president’s party complain that he could be doing more to broker a compromise on several major spending bills.
The White House said in a statement Biden will “speak with members of the House Democratic Caucus,” which members said will likely come in the form of a caucus meeting.
Emerging from an hours-long caucus meeting earlier in the day, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said Biden should intervene more personally in the process, telling Forbes “very few” lawmakers have seen Biden “in the nine months he’s been president.”
Cohen added that Biden, as a 36-year veteran of the Senate, knows “how important it is to hear from the president,” adding, “I, as a legislator, am a mushroom. It’d be nice to hear from the grand mushroom.”
Biden’s move comes as the House continues to delay a vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which dozens of progressives are refusing to vote on unless both chambers of Congress pass a larger social spending bill first.
Biden’s presence on the Hill may make little headway where it counts, however, as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), one of two senators resisting the proposed $3.5 trillion price tag of the social spending bill, was in Phoenix for a “medical appointment,” her spokesperson John LaBombard told Forbes.
LaBombard added that Sinema “continues remote negotiations with the White House,” while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has proposed to cut the social spending bill by more than half to $1.5 trillion, told Forbes on Thursday he plans to remain in D.C. through the weekend.
Despite his lengthy tenure in the Senate and his close bipartisan, and bicameral, relationships on the Hill, this will be only Biden’s second trip to the Hill during his presidency aside from his inauguration and his address to a joint session of Congress in April. Biden last visited the Capitol in July to lobby Senate Democrats on the two spending bills.
“I need a vote,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Forbes as she exited the earlier caucus meeting, summing up the position of roughly half her members that the social spending bill should be voted on before the infrastructure package. She added, however, “If there’s something else that’s short of a vote … that gives me those same assurances, I want to listen to that.”