Shrinking Biden agenda collides with higher stakes: The Note

Weeks of wrangling has left most of their agenda no closer to becoming reality.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Trade-offs are typical at this stage of a presidency -- and, in theory, represent the kinds of deals President Joe Biden has longed to cut.

But with House and Senate Democratic leaders huddling with Biden at the White House Wednesday, they confront a strange phenomenon in time for the start of fall. Weeks of wrangling has left most of their governing agenda no closer to becoming reality, even as harsh deadlines draw closer and significant items go by the wayside.

House leaders now recognize that as reality. Next Monday's vote on the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that's already passed the Senate is set and not moving, to the dismay of many on the left.

That breaks the longstanding pledge to progressives to only approve that bill if it's in "tandem" with the far larger, Democrat-only proposal. Biden himself infamously said "I'm not signing it" if the bipartisan bill doesn't have a bigger cousin he could also make law, only to walk that back.

For all that give, deadlines over funding the government at the end of September and the debt ceiling at the end of October have further complicated Democrats' plans. The stakes of complicated and overlapping negotiations have risen rapidly, even as their list of goals has continued to shrink.

Democrats can rightly complain that they're getting little to no help in governing from Republicans, who are now holding fast to a commitment to not provide votes to raise the debt limit.

The upshot is that Democrats are, once again, negotiating with themselves. That dynamic could make losing sting even more.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress are joining the chorus of voices calling out the conditions at the southern border.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters he is calling on the president to halt expulsions of Haitian migrants and end the use of a holdover Trump administration border policy that allows asylum seekers to be turned away without having their claims heard, citing the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I urge president Biden to put a stop to these expulsions and to end this Title 42 policy at our southern border," Schumer said. "We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday night outlining what she called "reports of mistreatment" of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas.

"All migrants seeking asylum must be treated in accordance with the law and with basic decency," said Pelosi. "Any acts of aggression or violence cannot be tolerated and must be investigated."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the images of border agents with migrants at the river "horrific" and said the Department of Homeland Security would pursue an investigation, but that only addresses one aspect of Democrats' concerns as it relates to Haitian migrants at the border. The administration remains steadfast in its plan to return migrants to Haiti and continued usage of Title 42 to expel migrants before they make asylum claims.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

The Republican Party is continuing to splinter as primary season heats up and GOP Senate candidates seek to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

"I don't have any reaction to that," McConnell told reporters Tuesday in the Capitol.

ABC News reached out to GOP Senate campaigns that have already nabbed endorsements from the former president, but only received one response. North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd's Senate campaign: that their primary focus is winning the campaign to make sure that the GOP leader is majority leader, not minority leader.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning's episode begins with an explainer on the lawsuits testing Texas' abortion ban and ABC News Legal Analyst Kate Shaw tells us whether they have any merit. Then, ABC News' correspondent Kenneth Moton on the backlash from new video of U.S. Border Patrol agents chasing migrants on horseback. And, in an "America Strong" special, we talk to a firefighter putting his own life on the line in the face of climate-related disasters.


  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears on ABC's "GMA3: What You Need to Know."
  • President Joe Biden convenes a virtual COVID Summit on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid appear before the House Homeland Security Committee for a hearing at 9 a.m. on the threats to the homeland 20 years after 9/11.
  • The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution holds a hearing on restoring the Voting Rights Act at 10 a.m.
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