New York: US President Joe Biden has made a surprise visit to Congress one day after it delayed a crucial vote on his $1tn (£750bn) infrastructure plan.
Part of his Democratic Party refuses to move forward with the plan until Congress signs off on a separate $3.5tn welfare and climate change bill.
The bill is at the heart of the party’s agenda and passions are high as Mr Biden appeals to unruly Democrats.
Centrists want to downsize the package, while liberals push for more funding.
Ahead of Mr Biden’s visit on Friday, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus, praised the president as “deeply involved” in the budget negotiations.
Her comment comes amid criticism from some Democrats that Mr Biden has taken a backseat in the intra-party talks.
However, after the roughly 30 minute meeting, Democrats emerged saying that Mr Biden had not indicated his top line price tag, leaving the future of the vote uncertain.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s in 6 minutes, 6 days, or 6 weeks, we’re going to get it done,” Mr Biden told journalists after the meeting.
The bipartisan $1tn public works bill, which would apply to routine transportation, broadband, water systems and other projects, enjoys wide support but liberal (or progressive) Democrats are linking its passage to their more ambitious welfare and climate change bill.
That bill would raise taxes on corporations and the rich, investing the revenue in a broad array of social programmes, including early childhood education, universal preschool, government-funded two-year college education, paid family and medical leave, an expansion of government health insurance and environmental spending.
President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been trying to reconcile the liberals with the centrists.
Mrs Pelosi has vowed to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill on Friday, though it’s not clear when that vote will take place.
Earlier this week, the White House cancelled Mr Biden’s trip to Chicago so he could focus on whipping the needed votes.
Reflecting the centrist position, Senator Joe Manchin said he was ready to meet the president less than halfway, at $1.5tn on infrastructure. He described the proposed figure of $3.5tn as “fiscal insanity”.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a leading liberal, tweeted on Friday that “the fate of the planet” rests on the $3.5tn bill.
“Without a strong reconciliation bill there will be no serious effort to cut carbon emissions and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel,” he said.
“There can be no infrastructure bill without a strong reconciliation bill,” he added.
Mr Biden’s party has the thinnest of majorities in both the House and Senate, and is eager to push through its signature policies before next year’s congressional elections, when the Republicans attempt to regain control.
On Thursday Congress did pass a temporary measure to keep the federal government funded until early December.
Federal museums, national parks and safety programmes would have had to close without the funding, which also includes hurricane relief and help for Afghan refugees.