You need all three of those things” to have any hope of keeping their majorities in the 2022 midterms, Podesta said, referring to the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package that passed in the spring, as well as the two pending plans. “If you pull out the fact that when Democrats were in control they couldn’t do anything for you, then drawing attention to how wacky the Republicans have become doesn’t mean a lot.”
Inside the White House, the tension heading into this week is palpable, aides and allies said.
The president’s approval numbers have been stuck in the mid-40s for weeks. Each attempt at recalibration on its pandemic response — the main force driving down his numbers — has been overshadowed by other world events, from the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to the troubling scenes of Haitian migrants gathering at the southern border.
Hungry for progress on the domestic front, the Joe Biden White House is now in a compromising state of mind. The president has made it clear he is willing to accept less than the $3.5 trillion that has been the sticker price for his Build Back Better plan, even as his aides publicly say that the cost will ultimately be nothing since it will all be paid for.
Inside the White House, the goal increasingly is to simply get the package over the goal line.
“They need a win,” said Amanda Loveday, senior adviser with Unite the Country, a pro-Biden super PAC, pointing to Afghanistan, the economy and turmoil at the U.S. border on top of the pandemic. “They’re all connected. If you’re able to get more Americans vaccinated, you’re able to see the economy continue to grow. All of it is an intersecting web, the nucleus is a better America for the people of this country.”
Where the White House finds optimism is in the experience of its staff. A person familiar with the White House’s thinking noted that those in charge of ultimately cutting the deals, like Ricchetti, have been in tough legislative battles in past administrations and even earlier this year.