President Joe Biden delivers remarks to promote his "Build Back Better" agenda, at the Capitol Child Development Center in Hartford, Conn. -AP
President Joe Biden is entering a crucial two weeks for his ambitious agenda, racing to conclude contentious congressional negotiations ahead of both domestic deadlines and a chance to showcase his administration's accomplishments on a global stage. Biden and his fellow Democrats are struggling to bridge intraparty divides by month's end to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger social services package. The president hopes to nail down both before Air Force lifts off for Europe on Oct. 28 for a pair of world leader summits, including the most ambitious climate change meeting in years.
But that goal has been jeopardized by fractures among Democrats, imperiling the fate of promised sweeping new efforts to grapple with climate change. There's also rising anxiety within the party about a bellwether gubernatorial contest in Virginia and looming Senate fights over the federal debt limit and government funding that could distract from getting the president's agenda across the finish line. Biden is trying to stabilize his presidency after a difficult stretch marked by the tumultuous end of the Afghanistan war, a diplomatic spat with a longtime ally and a surge in COVID-19 cases that rattled the nation's economic recovery and sent his poll numbers tumbling.
His team has continued its strategy - one that served it well during the campaign and earlier this year - of blocking out the outside noise to stay focused on a singular mission, this time to pass the two-part package that will give Democrats a platform on which to run in next year's midterm elections.
"These bills, in my view, are literally about competitiveness versus complacency, about opportunity versus decay, and about leading the world or continuing to let the world move by us," Biden said Friday while pushing the legislation in Connecticut.
--- AP, Washington