White House counselor Steve Ricchetti’s message to moderate senators late last week was an effort to be soothing: President Biden will clarify that he didn’t mean it when he said he wouldn’t sign a bipartisan infrastructure deal unless it was accompanied by a more sweeping liberal bill.
By Monday, it was liberal Democrats who were getting placating calls from senior White House officials, who sought to ease any concerns about Biden’s infrastructure ambitions and explain what the president meant in his remarks. Further discussions were planned for Tuesday with the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
As Biden heads to Wisconsin on Tuesday to pitch the bipartisan deal, these chaotic efforts at behind-the-scenes damage control show how tenuous the agreement still is. Biden appears to have righted himself with centrist senators for the moment, but in assuaging one critical group he may have alienated another — liberals in his own party.