President Joe Biden responded with a quip during CNN’s town hall when asked about the state of community college funding in the multitrillion-dollar Democratic reconciliation bill.
I’m going to get it done, or I’ll be sleeping alone for a long time,” he said to audience laughter.
Biden was referring to his wife, first lady Jill Biden, who teaches at a community college in northern Virginia and is a strong proponent of the provision.
Biden further joked that he was fortunate that the White House had multiple bedrooms when he explained to the first lady that community college might not make the cut.
The provision, popular with young liberal activists on the campaign trail last year, appears to be a casualty of efforts to shrink the reconciliation bill from $3.5 trillion to $2 trillion or slightly lower.
Biden suggested on Thursday night that Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, was the lawmaker who objected to the college proposal’s inclusion in the Democrats’ partisan spending plan.
The White House and Democratic congressional leaders agreed to use budget reconciliation as a tool to pass a series of liberal policy priorities without relying on Republican votes. Republicans were involved in the design of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is supposed to pass in tandem with this legislation.
But because Democratic majorities are so narrow, they need near unanimity in the House and all 50 Democrats in the Senate to vote with them for anything to pass.
Biden appeared at a town hall in Baltimore on Thursday night to promote his initiatives, though he often faced questions about why he could not get centrist lawmakers to agree to fulfill his more liberal campaign promises. Jill Biden was in the audience during the event.