The next 24 hours will make clear whether Democrats are on the verge of pushing through a once-in-a-generation expansion of the social safety net or nearing a complete collapse of Joe Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda.
The stakes are as high as ever as Democrats barrel toward a make-or-break vote on a $1tn public works measure, with almost no margin for error and little time left to break an impasse that threatens to imperil its passage – and possibly the entirety of the president’s agenda.
Assurances of progress offered little comfort to nervous Democrats on Capitol Hill, where a series of legislative and fiscal deadlines loom.
“We’re obviously at a precarious and important time in these discussions,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters on Wednesday, as Biden spent the day locked in negotiations with Democratic leadership and lawmakers.
Returning from an Oval Office meeting with Biden on Wednesday afternoon, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told reporters on Capitol Hill that she was prepared to move ahead with a vote on Thursday.
“That’s the plan,” she said, adding that they were taking it “one hour at a time”.