- President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance at Wednesday night’s Congressional Baseball Game
- He faces the most critical days of his presidency with massive spending bills and budget deadlines looming
- Progressives are revolting and threatening to tank a $1.2T infrastructure bill to pressure moderates
- Moderates Manchin and Sinema support the infrastructure bill but are blocking broader $3.5T spending plan
- Manchin dug in on Wednesday issuing a fiery statement slamming the broader bill as ‘fiscal insanity’
- Biden also needs lawmakers to lift the debt ceiling before mid-October, to avoid the U.S. defaulting on its debt
- Government funding is also set to expire on Thursday, with a Senate vote set to extend through December 3
- At the ballgame, Democrats greeted Biden with cheers of ‘We Love Joe’ while Republicans booed
- The Republican team won the charity baseball game for the first time in five years – 13-12
- Biden also faced criticism for attending the game with his administration facing mounting crises
President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance at Wednesday night’s Congressional Baseball Game, glad-handing lawmakers as members of his own party threaten to strike out his domestic agenda.
Moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are still endangering his $3.5 trillion spending bill, while progressives could tank a House vote on the separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package in a key vote on Thursday.
Manchin on Wednesday scuttled hopes of a quick deal on the broader bill by issuing a fiery statement calling it ‘fiscal insanity’, and progressive members of the so-called ‘Squad’ in the House are threatening to kill infrastructure, which the centrists support, unless they also back Biden’s broader agenda.
Meanwhile, Congress has until midnight on Thursday to pass a stop-gap funding bill to avoid a government shutdown, with a vote scheduled in the morning on a deal announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Separately, lawmakers must also raise the debt ceiling to prevent the U.S. government from going into a disastrous credit default by mid-October, an issue Republicans insist that Democrats must resolve on their own in reconciliation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared poised to pull the plug on Thursday’s infrastructure vote, with progressive members in revolt. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told reporters that he’d ‘find out at the baseball game’ whether the infrastructure vote would be delayed.
As Biden entered the ballpark Wednesday night, the Republican side of the stadium greeted Biden with boos. Democrats yelled ‘We Love Joe’ and ‘Build Back Better,’ his agenda’s slogan.
Biden huddled with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Democratic dugout, before walking across the field to greet Republican lawmakers.
The president left before the end of the game, which saw Republicans win 13-12, while Pelosi was seen furiously speaking on the phone throughout.
Biden was also criticized for heading to Nationals Stadium with multiple crises mounting for his administration. Former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted: ‘The fact that Joe Biden has time to go to the Congressional baseball game but not time to take questions on Afghanistan or see the humanitarian crisis at the border is a disgrace.’
The Pentagon top brass has been grilled in Congress this week over the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, with Generals Mark Milley and Frank McKenzie contradicting the President’s claim he wasn’t advised to keep US troops on the ground.
President Joe Biden attended the Congressional Baseball Game Wednesday night as Democrats are threatening to strike out his domestic agenda
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confers with Biden during the annual Congressional Baseball game at Nationals Park
President Joe Biden (right) was spotted on the phone during the Congressional Baseball Game as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cheers on the Democrats’ team
Pelosi was in close talks with White House advisor Cedric Richmond during the Congressional baseball game, as Biden tries to salvage his ambitious domestic agenda ahead of key votes scheduled for Thursday
President Joe Biden sported a blue ballcap from the Beau Biden foundation as he attended Wednesday night’s Congressional Baseball Game in Washington
Despite the bipartisan moment on the ballfield, Biden only needs Democrats to get his $3.5 trillion ‘human infrastructure’ bill across home plate.
So far, that hasn’t happened, with moderate Democratic Senators Sinema and Manchin blocking the bill over concerns about the size of the spending and hikes to business taxes. The pair have infuriated colleagues by not publicly stating their counter-proposals.
Biden spent hours meeting with Sinema at the White House on Wednesday, but appeared no closer to a deal after Manchin fired off a scathing statement decrying the broad spending bill as ‘fiscal insanity’ and warning it would not get his vote without adjustments.
‘I cannot – and will not – support trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing approach,’ said the West Virginia Democrat.
Manchin said he ‘can’t support $3.5 trillion in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March.’
‘At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question – how much is enough?’ added Manchin.
‘What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also met with Biden at the White House ahead of the ballgame, as the Democrats rush to salvage the president’s ambitious domestic agenda.
Pelosi may be forced to postpone Thursday’s vote on the $1 trillion public infrastructure bill that Manchin, Sinema and other centrists want, but that progressives are threatening to defeat unless the moderates support Biden’s broader package.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki assured reporters that Sinema, at least, wanted a reconciliation bill to get passed. ‘Our sense is she does,’ Psaki said.
Even before Manchin’s statement came out, progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders was encouraging progressives in the House to kill the bipartisan infrastructure bill – using that as leverage to get the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill done.
House Progressive Caucus Chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, said Manchin’s statement made that outcome even more possible
‘I just don’t see how [Pelosi’s] going to bring it up and I tell you, after that statement, we probably have even more people willing to vote no,’ Jayapal said.
Jayapal of Washington state said of Manchin: ‘He needs to either give us an offer or this whole thing is not going to happen.’
The bipartisan infrastructure bill has already passed the Senate.
Pelosi was seen above the Democrat dugout speaking on the phone as the clock ticked on the shutdown and Biden’s agenda
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi licks her lips as she takes in Wednesday night’s Congressional Baseball Game
Pelosi reacts while Biden speaks on the phone during the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park
Biden congratulates a member of the Democratic team at the Congressional Baseball Game
Biden joked that it was ‘good to meet his predecessors’ when he posed with the Nationals mascots – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln – in the Nationals Stadium tunnel
Biden watches the game from the Democrats’ dugout after a tense day of crisis talks with Congressional leaders
Centrists warned that canceling Thursday’s vote would be “breach of trust that would slow the momentum in moving forward in delivering the Biden agenda,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat and leader of the moderate Blue Dog Democrats.
Republicans are firmly opposed to Biden’s bigger vision, deriding the $3.5 trillion package as a slide toward socialism and government intrusion on Americans lives.
Biden insists the price tag for his plan actually will be zero because the expansion of government programs would be largely paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy – businesses earning more than $5 million a year, and individuals earning more than $400,000 a year, or $450,000 for couples.
Psaki was asked Wednesday afternoon if the infrastructure vote in the House was still expected the following day.
‘Well, this is why we all came to Washington – it’s like an episode of a TV show,’ she replied. ‘Maybe the West Wing if something good happens, maybe Veep if not,’ she joked.
Pelosi, who met with Biden at the White House earlier Wednesday, told reporters back on Capitol Hill ‘that’s the plan’ when asked about the Thursday infrastructure vote.
This week is a superficial deadline for the two Biden bills but there are concerns Congress will lose steam if they don’t get passed soon.
‘We’re obviously at a precarious and important time in these discussions,’ Psaki admitted.
Psaki played coy when asked if Biden might pay a visit to the game.
Upon his arrival, Biden put on a blue baseball hat, representing the Beau Biden Foundation, and was spotted signing his name to baseballs.
Biden’s entrance came after the Republican team hit back-to-back home runs, leading the Democrats 5-3 after the first inning. Democrats gained an additional run by the time Biden arrived.
Biden recruited the Democrats best player, Rep. Cedric Richmond, to work in the White House, which could allow the GOP to break the Democrats’ winning streak.
Republicans last won the game in 2016. Democrats have won eight of the last nine games.
Shortly after Biden arrived, Democrats retook the lead.
Richmond was spotted hanging out with Democratic lawmakers in their dugout. Pelosi visited Biden in the dugout too. Biden was also seen talking on the phone during the game.
With the Democrats leading 8-5, the president moved to the Republican side of the field for some gripping and grinning with them.
He stopped to talk to some children en route. The president’s grand-daughter Naomi walked alongside him.
Republican Rep. Greg Steube, pitching for the Republicans, hit a home-run as Biden chatted with GOP members.
The game is played at Nationals Park in Southeast D.C. Biden came out alongside the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents – giant versions of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson.
Biden speaks with Michigan’s Bill Huizenga and Mike Bost of Illinois in the Republican dugout on Wednesday
Biden speaks with members of the Republicans team as he attends the annual Congressional Baseball Game
Trump supporters hold a banner while US President Joe Biden attends the Congressional Baseball Game
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (center left), who was wounded practicing for the annual game in 2017, high fives Rep. Louie Gohmert (center right)
Rep. William Timmons (left), a Republican from South Carolina, wears a ‘Fix Congress’ jersey to Wednesday’s game. Rep. Dean Phillips (right), a Republican from Minnesota, is captured pointing to the message Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, puts on her cleats in advance of Wednesday’s Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park
Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, puts on her cleats in advance of Wednesday’s Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park
Besides attending a memorial service earlier Wednesday, Biden has remained huddled in meetings with lawmakers all week, ever since he received his COVID-19 booster shot Monday morning.
The president skipped a planned trip to Chicago Wednesday in order to hold more talks ahead of Thursday’s key funding deadline and votes.