President Joe Biden will host business and labor leaders at the White House on Thursday as a bipartisan group of senators nears an agreement that will allow the chamber to begin debating infrastructure legislation.
Biden plans to point out how notable it is that groups that sit across negotiating tables from one another and are often at odds have come together to support the bipartisan infrastructure framework, a White House official said on the condition of anonymity to discuss the agenda of the meeting.
On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked debate on the still-unfinished plan, though a group of GOP centrists say they will agree to debate on the $579 billion bill early next week after more details are hammered out.
The president expressed confidence Wednesday night that the bill will cross the finish line. “The answer is absolutely positively yes,” he told a questioner during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati.
Attendees representing business groups at Thursday’s meeting are expected to include Josh Bolten, the chief executive officer of the Business Roundtable and a former White House chief of staff to President George W. Bush, and Suzanne Clark, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Union presidents including Lonnie Stephenson of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Terry O’Sullivan of the Laborers’ International Union of North America and Kenneth Rigmaiden of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, are also scheduled to be at the session.
Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association and a top climate adviser in the Obama administration who was considered for roles in the Biden administration; Michael Lamach, chair of the board of the National Association of Manufacturers, and Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, are also expected to attend, as is Brent Booker, secretary-treasurer of North America’s Building Trades Unions.
Labor leaders met with Biden in February as he pressed for passage of the American Rescue Plan, as did a group of chief executives including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Doug McMillon of Walmart Inc.
Earlier this month, the Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO, together with groups representing manufacturers, retailers and builders, joined forces to encourage lawmakers to get their infrastructure framework to the finish line.
“Now is the time to turn these promises into projects,” their Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment said in a statement. “We urge Congress to turn this framework into legislation that will be signed into law.”