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This Is Going to Be a Tough Week for Biden

Democratic standoff threatens his agenda
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2021 1:22 PM CDT
Democratic Standoff Threatens Biden Agenda
President Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – Last week, Joe Biden faced the biggest crisis of his presidency so far after the collapse of Afghanistan's government and military—and this week is unlikely to be any easier. Top administration officials will face tough questions about Afghanistan in congressional hearings, and a standoff has developed among House Democrats over major parts of his legislative agenda, the Hill reports. Democratic leaders are hoping for quick approval this week from House Democrats for a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint passed in a party-line vote in the Senate, but nine caucus members are threatening to oppose it unless the House first approves the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate with bipartisan support, reports the AP.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can't afford to lose more than three votes—but meeting the demands of the centrist group may be impossible, since almost 100 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus say they will withhold their votes on the infrastructure bill until both the budget blueprint and the final $3.5 trillion package, which will include progressive priorities like fighting climate change and expanding Medicare, have cleared Congress, the Washington Post reports. Caucus member Rep. Ro Khanna describes the moderates' opposition as a "slap in the face of Joe Biden"

Pelosi warned House Democrats over the weekend that any "delay to passing the budget resolution threatens the timetable for delivering the historic progress and the transformative vision that Democrats share." The White House said Biden supports Pelosi's strategy. House Republicans, meanwhile, are accusing Pelosi of holding the bipartisan infrastructure bill "hostage," though it's not clear how many of them intend to vote for it, Politico reports. "The Democrats are tied up in a pretzel over this, with both wings of their party duking it out over how to move forward," says GOP Rep. Jim Banks. (Polls show Biden's approval rating is at its lowest since he took office.)

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