The divide in the Democratic Party over the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and wider social program bill with a $3.5 trillion price tag has “sunk” President Joe Biden — and could put the popular hard infrastructure on a “long pause,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Sunday.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Barrasso said Biden has proven to be “neither competent nor a centrist.”
“We are watching [an] episode of the Twilight Zone,” Barrasso said. “I thought Joe Biden went to the Hill on Friday to get the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed and instead, he surrendered to the radical wing of his party.”
The president had gone to Capitol Hill on Friday for a private meeting with House Democrats that was partly a morale booster for the disjointed caucus of lawmakers. According to lawmakers in the room, he discussed a $1.9 trillion to $2 trillion-plus price tag for the larger package that would expand the country's social safety net.
And on Saturday, Biden acknowledged frustrations as Democrats strain to rescue a scaled-back version of his $3.5 trillion government-overhaul plan and salvage a related public works bill.
"Everybody's frustrated, it's part of being in government, being frustrated," Biden told reporters before leaving the White House for a weekend stay at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. He pledged to "work like hell" to get the two pillars of his domestic agenda passed into law, but refrained from laying out a new deadline.
But according to Barrasso, Biden’s slide in the polls is reflective of growing dissatisfaction with him by the American people.
“People are feeling less safe with him as a president,” he said. “Their paychecks are less safe because of the inflation. When you look at hundreds of thousands of people legally coming to the country every month, they feel less safe. When the generals testify as they did that we are less safe to terrorism, Joe Biden has [to] walk the plank for the socialist [Independent Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders’ budget.”
“He is man overboard and he cannot swim. He is sinking and he has sunk.” Barrasso declared.
Barrasso added that on the larger social program bill, “every Republican is united against it. We are a party that wants to grow the economy. The Democrats are a party that wants to grow the government.”
“It looks like there may be a long pause on the infrastructure bill,” he said of the public works bill.
The White House and its allies in Congress are prepared for protracted negotiations. Biden said he would soon travel around the country to promote the legislation and he acknowledged concerns that the talk in Washington had become too focused on the trillions in new spending and taxes in the bill.
It is a pivotal time for Biden and the party. Democrats are restless, eager to deliver on his signature campaign promise of rebuilding the country. His ideas go beyond roads-and-bridges infrastructure to delivering dental, vision and hearing care for seniors, free prekindergarten, major efforts to tackle climate change and other investments that would touch countless American lives.
Holdout Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., had dashed hopes for a swift compromise on a framework when he refused to budge late Thursday on his demands for a smaller overall package, about $1.5 trillion.
Without a broader deal, prospects for a vote on the companion public works bill stalled out as progressives refused to commit until senators reached agreement.
“Overall, Joe Biden's policies have been hurting the people of Wyoming,” Barrasso said Sunday, including on a plan for universal pre-K.
“I believe that there should be means tested. You do not give things universally to everybody. There should be work requirements involved. The Democrats are trying to separate work requirements from just free government checks and programs.”
“That's not the way our country has been founded,” Barrasso asserted.
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