Problem Solvers Caucus, Biden Officials Meeting on Infrastructure Bill

Problem Solvers Caucus, Biden Officials Meeting on Infrastructure Bill

Leaders of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus will meet with key White House officials Wednesday while the administration continues its push to enlist moderate support of President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal. 

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and counselor Steve Ricchetti are to receive the caucus’ co-chairs, Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., reports Axios

A White House official said Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, and Dusty Johnson of South Dakota will attend the meeting, as well as Democrat Reps. Abigail Spanberger of New Jersey, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and Tom Suozzi of New York. 

“The American people want us to work together across party lines,” Gottheimer told Axios. “We actually have to use our bipartisan muscles or they will continue to atrophy.”

Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” though, has come under fire from Republicans because it reaches further than covering traditional infrastructure and reaches into areas like clean energy and features corporate tax hikes as its funding source. 

The Problem Solvers Caucus wrote a letter to Biden last month outlining its priorities, which include work on COVID-19, infrastructure, broadband expansion, small business and innovation incentives, immigration reform and border security, debt and the deficit, health care, labor and the workforce, police reform, energy and the climate, and election security.

Wednesday, the members are expecting to discuss, in addition to the president’s infrastructure bill, other topics including immigration reform, mental health, and veterans issues.  

Over the weekend, several representatives from the group visited the southern border, and Fitzpatrick told Axios the group intends to make immigration one of its priority issues after progress is made concerning the infrastructure bill. 

The report did not indicate that Biden will attend the meeting. According to a White House statement, the president early Wednesday will accompany first lady Jill Biden to an appointment for a “common medical procedure” at a Washington, D.C., outpatient center, after which both will return to the White House to resume their normal schedules. The nature of the first lady’s procedure has not been disclosed, reports The Associated Press.  

Later on Wednesday, Biden is scheduled to address the nation on plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. He then plans to visit Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where many U.S. service members who died in Afghanistan and Iraq are buried, according to the White House. 

The president on Monday met with another bipartisan group of eight lawmakers, four from each party, in the Oval Office, telling them he’s willing to negotiate on his infrastructure plan and how it would be funded. 

The lawmakers at Monday’s meeting included, on the Democrat side, Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Alex Padilla of California and Reps. Donald M. Payne Jr. of New Jersey and David E. Price of North Carolina, reports The New York Times. Republicans who attended were Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Reps. Garret Graves of Louisiana and Don Young of Alaska.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is pushing to pass the bill in her chamber by July 4. 

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