Harris courts centrists as Biden agenda meets roadblocks


Vice President Kamala Harris uses a personal touch to help push through the Democrats’ sweeping legislative proposals, wooing centrists in his private residence to find common ground within the divided party.

At the Naval Observatory, Harris recently hosted both the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus, comprising centrist and progressive members.

With members of CBC, Harris discussed elements of the Build Back Better program to rally support for spending and investment in President Joe Biden’s care economy in infrastructure across the country, according to a White House official.

Half of the centrists who signed a letter written by Problem-Solving Caucus co-chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat from New Jersey, are CHC members who visited the vice president’s residence on Monday. While there, Harris spoke about their priorities in Biden’s legislation, stressing “this is a historic moment to make investments that would change the lives of working families.”


A former California senator, Harris spent four years in the Upper House before capping her brief legislative career to join Biden in the White House. Unlike the president, a 36-year-old senator, Harris presented herself as a combative partisan during her time in the Senate, reducing the chances of reaching the other side of the aisle.

But this latest awareness demonstrates the vice president’s finesse in aligning a divided caucus.

This isn’t the first time Harris has sought to bring disparate lawmakers together to pursue Biden’s goals.

Shortly after taking office, the White House called on Harris to advocate for the administration’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package in the interviews with local media in West Virginia and Arizona. Media appearances were poorly received by Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, at the time.

“I couldn’t believe it”, Manchin said in a local interview. “Nobody called me [about it] … We will try to find a bipartisan path forward… but we have to work together. This is not a way of working together, which has been done.

Now the bipartisan infrastructure bill and Biden’s social spending program are on the line. House progressives have threatened to vote against the infrastructure deal, which was passed by the Senate earlier this year. , fearing that its passage would jeopardize the passage of Biden’s broad Build Back Better Act.

While Biden has met in the White House Manchin and his Democratic maverick colleague Krysten Sinema of Arizona several times this week, Harris’s role in the negotiations is little known.

Asked on Wednesday, Psaki replied that she should check it out. Another White House official declined to say.

Jim Manley, a veteran Democratic strategist and former senior collaborator of the senses. Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid said Democratic leaders are best suited to work on holdouts – but Harris could still play a role.

“You can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen, and you can’t have too many people trying to seal a legislative deal,” Manley said.

In the equally divided chamber, Harris holds a deciding vote. But it’s unclear if she’ll have the opportunity to use it to push the deal over to Biden’s desk.

Manchin on Wednesday dashed his party’s hopes of gaining support for $ 3.5 trillion welfare proposals that “spend for the sake of spending.” The reconciliation proposal requires the approval of the 50 senators in the equally divided upper house.

On Thursday, the negotiations had spread to the public.

Manchin and Sinema lobbied to cut costs. While they publicly declined to share a top-tier issue they could accept, a leaked document surfaced Thursday outlining Manchin’s priorities that capped the price at $ 1.5 trillion. Manchin also wants Democrats to change the tax hikes in the bill, arguing they could hurt small businesses and slow the country’s economic growth.


Still, the White House has shared few details about Harris’ involvement.

“She made calls herself, as did the president,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday. “If it’s constructive for her to go to the Hill, or for him to go to the Hill, to have members here, they will.

Psaki added, “But a lot of what’s going on right now is a discussion at the staff level and at the senior management level to go through the intricate details, and that’s where the focus is. “

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Original author: Catherine doyle

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