WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden met with a fractured Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill Friday to encourage all involved to keep working on his landmark $3.5 trillion plan, even if it needs to be scaled back.
Democrats in the House delayed the vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to Friday after no compromise was met between centrists and progressives within the party.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks — we’re going to get it done,” Biden told reporters as he left the basement meeting at the Capitol.
He says the bill may ultimately weigh $1.9 trillion to $2.3 trillion over 10 years.
Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., one of the lead voices of the progressive caucus, told NewsNation the goal of every Democrat is to pass some version of both bills.
“I know a lot of people want to pit us against each other,” she said on “On Balance With Leland Vittert” Friday. “Our values are all the same, and failure is not an option.”
But moderates in the party are spooked by the price tag, meaning some things will need to be cut. Dingell said some of her biggest priorities are beefing up the infrastructure for electric cars and removing lead pipes from the nation’s drinking water, but she is one voice among hundreds of votes.
Republicans have been largely silent about the process since they have already pledged to oppose the big spending plan, known as the Build Back Better Act.
“They’re not taking an incremental approach to match the votes they have,” Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., said on “On Balance” Friday. “They’re going for a home run, when they have a split Senate and three votes in the House.”
Those razor-thin majorities mean a small group of representatives and senators has the power to sink the bills.
Some progressive Democrats have vowed to vote against the bill to invest in the nation’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure because the party has yet to reach an agreement on a multitrillion-dollar companion bill with funding for social services and to address climate change.
“It’s pretty hard for us to argue that we need to act in a more bipartisan fashion if we can’t figure out a way even to bridge the differences within our own party,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said on “On Balance.”
Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has proposed a spending package of about $1.5 trillion. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., has yet to say whether she agreed with Manchin’s proposal.
“A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “But we are not there yet, and so we will need some additional time to finish the work.”
On Thursday, the government averted a shutdown by voting to continue funding the government through Dec. 3. Biden signed the measure before funding was to run out at midnight.
“There’s so much more to do. But the passage of this bill reminds us that bipartisan work is possible and it gives us time to pass longer-term funding to keep our government running and delivering for the American people,” Biden said in a statement.
The House approved the measure in a bipartisan 254-175 vote, hours after it passed the Senate by 65-35.
The challenge over the coming weeks will be avoiding a dip in momentum after Speaker Nancy Pelosi had targeted this week to find a solution.
Kildee said it’s about being pragmatic.
“Bring whatever ideology you want to bring to the conversation,” he told NewsNation. “But if it’s only going to be a conversation about your ideology, and not an effort to practically resolve the differences between all of us and actually move the ball forward, then your philosophy is nothing more than a philosophy and you can go off and be a philosopher. You want to be a legislator, you got to figure out how to compromise.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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