White House press secretary Jen Psaki will hold a news briefing on Wednesday.
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President Joe Biden on Wednesday hosted the first formal gathering of the “big four” congressional leaders since he took office.
Biden’s sit-down with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional leaders comes as the White House accelerates its efforts to reach a bipartisan infrastructure agreement — or at least aims to show it’s trying.
“The bottom line here is we are going to see if we can reach some consensus on a compromise,” Biden said in remarks to reporters in the Oval Office as the meeting started.
The timing of the meeting with McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is crucial for White House’s outreach on Biden’s two-pronged $4 trillion American jobs and families plans.
At the center are Biden and McConnell, two stalwarts of the Senate who have traded expressions of friendship but whose ability to find political common ground seems limited. In a Washington controlled by Democrats by the slimmest of margins, it’s unclear if they actually need each other to accomplish their political goals.
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Republicans have balked at the size of Biden’s proposals — a sweeping plan that moves beyond roads and bridges to dramatically expand the social safety net — and at the president’s plan to pay for it with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.
But in recent days, Biden has deliberately and publicly opened the door further to compromise, explicitly saying that he was willing to negotiate the size of the overall package and the size of the tax hike. That echoes what White House staffers have been telling their Capitol Hill counterparts in the last week, according to administration officials.
But it takes two to compromise. McConnell will arrive at the White House on Wednesday “cleareyed” about what Biden wants, according to a Republican familiar with his thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations, and about whether the president truly needs his help to pass the legislation.