Sep 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Why Biden won't beg

Biden with bipartisan group of senators
Biden with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and other bipartisan senators in June. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden has kept a public distance from Hill fights that'll help define his legacy, based on confidence that Dems will ultimately be with him despite bucking and bellyaching.

Between the lines: "He's not gonna beg," said an official with firsthand knowledge of the president's mindset. "His view is: 'You're Democrats, and you're with your president or you're not.'"

The hardball is driven by several factors, according to people who have discussed the negotiations with Biden:

  1. He's from a generation of politicians for whom party loyalty is automatic.
  2. He's confident Speaker Pelosi will deliver.
  3. He believes he'll ultimately get a big win.

Backstory: Biden's approach is shaped partly by his 36 years as a senator — and sense that presidents should demand outcomes rather than details.

  • Another twist is Biden's place in the shifting Democratic Party. For decades, he was on the liberal end. But in the 2020 primary field, he was centrist.
  • So it'd be politically risky for him to be the tip of the spear on tangling with progressives. His approach: Let Pelosi and Bernie do it.

Biden advisers say he's lobbying LBJ-style: making his case on merits, loyalty, politics — and arm twisting.

  • Biden met separately at the White House yesterday with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

The president postponed a vaccination-themed trip to Chicago today so he can stay back to lobby.

  • Besides Biden's meetings, White House aides report 260 "engagements" on the legislation with members and top advisers.

Go deeper: Progressive leader calls Sinema's threat insane

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