As Democrats enter a critical stage in the negotiations over the shape of a sweeping, multi-trillion dollar social safety net expansion, President Joe Biden plans to lean on a key group to sell the proposal, according to an internal White House memo: his Cabinet secretaries.
For the Biden administration, deputizing and deploying Cabinet officials to sell the two major components of his $4 trillion in proposals has been a key element of their strategic approach for several months, both inside and outside of Washington.
But as White House officials continue to work through the details of a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan agreement on infrastructure, the role of the group Biden tapped to lay the groundwork for the second piece of his proposal — known as the American Families Plan — is coming into focus.
The stakes for the intra-party negotiations are enormous, as the White House seeks to maintain a delicate balance between a bipartisan push on infrastructure that includes key moderate lawmakers and the second, more expansive effort on education, child-care and paid leave, viewed as essential by progressive Democrats.
“As the President presses for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, his commitment to championing the full breadth and scope of the American Families Plan remains unwavering,” Evan Ryan, the White House Cabinet secretary, wrote In a memo to White House senior advisor Anita Dunn obtained by CNN.
Over the course of the next week, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse, all members of Biden’s “Families Cabinet” will headline events on the proposal.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona have played key roles over the last several weeks in both publicly highlighting key priorities in the plan, but also working behind closed doors to brief key Democratic lawmakers.
In all, the group has held dozens of public events, media appearances and closed-door briefings as the White House sought to lay the groundwork for the negotiations to come, according to the memo. When lawmakers return to Washington after the July 4 recess, those negotiations will kick into high gear — and the Cabinet officials are expected to pick up their pace.
“The Families Cabinet has been on the road underscoring the need for these investments, and they will continue to do so as the President sees this plan through,” Ryan wrote.
Biden split his Cabinet officials into two groups to push for the two pieces of his overall agenda, and some, like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, served as key behind the scenes players to clinch the agreement on the bipartisan infrastructure framework reached last month.