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Biden economic advisor: Progressives 'need to take this win'

One of President Biden’s top economic advisors has a succinct message for the progressive wing of the Democratic party: “We need to take this win,” Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told Yahoo Finance.

In order to get "this piece of legislation across the finish line,” everyone needs to be on board, she said.

So far that message – also delivered by President Biden during a meeting on Capitol Hill on Oct. 28 before leaving for Europe – hasn’t yet been heeded.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) has said the trimmed down legislation is significant but the framework is one “I want us to make better." The tension among Democrats has also been evident after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reportedly “kicked out” of the meeting of progressives who were mulling their next moves.

The White House announced the $1.75 trillion "framework" Thursday which included investments in universal preschool and limiting child-care costs for some families; around half a trillion dollars for combating climate change; and an extension of expanded health care tax credits.

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 28: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walks President Joe Biden out of the U.S. Capitol after a meeting with the House Democratic Caucus on the reconciliation package on Thursday, October 28, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden, along with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, leaves a meeting with the House Democratic Caucus on the reconciliation package Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

At the same time, other programs like free community college, paid family leave, and a climate program known as the CEPP, were dropped from the package.

‘We are with the president in principle’

Much of the frustration among progressives stems from the outsized role two moderate Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – have played in the process. Because Democrats can’t afford to lose a single Democratic vote in the Senate, those two Manchin and Sinema have been able to single-handedly dictate which provisions stay or go.

During a TV appearance Thursday night, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), the chair of the House Progressive Caucus said her members are “with the president in principle,” but will not support a vote on the infrastructure bill “without a full legislative text and a vote on the Build Back Better Act” on the same day, citing concerns about “changes that have continued to come from two senators,” a clear reference to Manchin and Sinema.

Jayapal also noted that there are things floating around “that could be additive to this framework” around issues like prescription drug pricing and paid family leave. Both issues had been addressed in the initial $3.5 trillion bill but dropped for the slimmed down $1.75 trillion version.

US Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal speaks to the press on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 28, 2021, after a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Representative Pramila Jayapal (D.-Wa), center, speaks to the press on Capitol Hill after a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“Not everything that we want is in this legislation,” Boushey said, but progressives who want more should recognize “this is an incredible achievement that we've come this far and that the president has the commitment of enough members of the Senate to get this passed.”

Biden is also “committed to keep fighting for those pieces” that ended up getting cut, Boushey added.

At the moment, progressives have stood firm against the White House's entreaties, and again delayed a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday night. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) had hoped that bill – which passed the Senate with bipartisan support in August – could be passed into law on Thursday as lawmakers flesh out the framework of the larger social spending package.

It didn’t happen. Late Thursday, Democratic leaders announced they would vote on a temporary transportation funding bill – to push the deadline for passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill – and that it would be the last vote of the week.

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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