(NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden pitched his infrastructure bill again Friday as bipartisan tensions flared and Democrat infighting slowed progress.
Biden argued that investments in child care and other social safety net programs are imperative to keep America competitive in the global economy during a visit to a child care center in Connecticut.
Biden visited a child development center to promote his proposal to make such care free for lower-income families, and ensure that families making up to 150% of their state’s median income pay less than 7% of their salaries on child care. The proposal is part of a massive expansion of the social safety net that Biden has championed and is aiming to pass with just Democratic votes in Congress.
“Too many folks in Washington still don’t realize it isn’t enough just to invest in our physical infrastructure. We also have to invest in our people,” he said.
Democratic progressives and centrists are fighting over the final size and contents of Biden’s proposed 10-year, $3.5 trillion package of social safety net, climate change and tax initiatives. The longer their battles rage, the more the party risks letting the struggles themselves define the effort, distracting from the widely popular programs they hope to include.
The $3.5 trillion package would impose tax hikes on corporations and wealthy Americans earning beyond $400,000 a year and plow that money back into federal programs for young and old.
Biden went on to outline how his plan would reduce child care costs for Connecticut residents, and noted the disparity between U.S. spending on early child care versus greater investments in other countries, to argue that the lack of investment is causing the U.S. to fall behind.
“How can we compete in the world if millions of American parents, especially moms, can’t be part of the workforce because they can’t afford the cost of child care or eldercare?”
Due to Senate moderates like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Biden has conceded that the final price tag will likely be much smaller, around $2 trillion. Money for priorities like the environment, health care and education will have to shrink accordingly.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks — we’re going to get it done,” Biden declared to reporters earlier this month.
Facing unanimous Republican opposition and paper-thin congressional majorities, Democrats will need near unanimity to succeed. Republican criticism of Biden has mounted as inflation eats into working pay, creating a drag on growth.
Republicans say Democrats need to quit fighting among themselves and work with the GOP.
“I wish they’d negotiate with Republicans in the House,” Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“They just have an insatiable appetite to raise taxes and spend more money. It would kill jobs, it would hit middle class families … It makes absolutely no sense,” he said.
The Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire contributed to this report.