Biden Gets Chance to Lobby for Agenda as Lawmakers Play Baseball
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden went to Wednesday night’s congressional baseball game in Washington, as he seeks to find enough congressional support to pass his economic agenda, keep the government open and prevent a default on U.S. debt.
Biden headed to the charity game at Nationals Park after meeting Wednesday afternoon with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, amid a struggle to forge a compromise agreement between the Democratic Party’s progressive and moderate wings.
The president handed out Dove ice cream bars printed with the presidential seal to ballplayers from both the GOP and Democratic teams.
The president was originally scheduled to travel to Chicago on Wednesday for an event to highlight coronavirus vaccinations. But he scrapped those plans as he and his top aides worked to broker a deal that could satisfy those in the party who want to push forward on a House vote for a bipartisan infrastructure bill that has passed the Senate, and others who say they should use the measure as leverage to secure an agreement on Biden’s more ambitious social spending and tax proposal.
Pelosi said the House would vote Thursday on the infrastructure bill. A number of progressive Democrats have said they would not back that legislation without guarantees on the separate spending bill, endangering the prospects for passage.
The Senate is working on a different agreement to set up a vote on a continuing resolution that would avert a government shutdown before funding lapses at midnight Friday. Republicans blocked a previous continuing resolution bill because it included language extending the debt ceiling; Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the government will default on Oct. 18 if lawmakers do not act.
Top Biden aides including counselor Steve Ricchetti, legislative liaison Louisa Terrell and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese spent Wednesday on Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers, including Senator Kyrsten Sinema. The Arizona Democrat and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin are seen as the biggest obstacles as Democrats seek a party-line vote to approve the social spending bill.
The baseball game -- with proceeds going to Washington-area charities -- has been held for more than a century and features Democrats and Republicans facing off on the field. Democrats have prevailed in 10 of the last 11 match-ups, though will this year be without Cedric Richmond, the former Louisiana congressman who joined the Biden White House as a senior adviser. Richmond was the starting pitcher in eight congressional games and was named most valuable player in the 2019 contest.
The game was not held in 2020 because of the pandemic, and delayed this year from its traditional summer date.
Biden is not the first president to use the game to lobby lawmakers. President Barack Obama went to the game in 2015 to lobby Pelosi to support a trade bill championed by the White House. The move was unsuccessful, with Pelosi opposing the legislation and 140 Democrats joining Republicans to reject it.
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