President Joe Biden's massive expansion of the social safety net—crucial to his campaign promises—is yet again at a crossroads. Meanwhile, Democratic infighting has again created hurdles for what earlier this week appeared to be a path to passage.
"An agreement is within arm's length, and we are hopeful that we can come to a framework agreement by the end of today, but we must continue working a little more to make sure it is the best deal possible for the American people," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said from the Senate floor Wednesday morning.
But hours later, key proposals within the massive overhaul of the social safety net, dubbed the Build Back Better agenda, already started to fizzle. Progressive Democrats stuck to their position that they need to see actual legislation—not just a loose framework—or they will block a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill.
"We need to get the legislative language written so that we are very sure that there's no misunderstandings from anybody about what we're agreeing to," congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, told reporters Wednesday as negotiations continued behind the scenes. "We all need to get it done. —we need to get both bills out."