'Voters sent a message on Tuesday' for more action, Klain says

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White House chief of staff Ron Klain on Sunday said that disappointing election results last week for Democrats were a wake-up call for lawmakers to act urgently to implement President Joe Biden's agenda, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill that is now set to become law.

"I do think the voters sent a message on Tuesday. They wanted to see more action in Washington," Klain said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." "They wanted to see things move more quickly, and three days later, Congress responded, passing the president's infrastructure bill."

Democrats passed the $550 billion infrastructure bill on Friday night, three days after Democratic candidates lost the governor's office in Virginia and New Jersey's governor survived a close election.

Both came amid sagging approval ratings for Biden in his first year on the job. Pressed on the decline in the president's approval, Klain acknowledged a difficult year, but touted the infrastructure package and an improving economy.

"In my opinion, it’s been a rough and tough year. And we knew it would be," Klain said. "President Biden has said this all the time. We’re in a yearlong effort to dig out of the holes we were left in."

"I understand that voters are tired, Americans are tired of how long it’s taken to get the economy moving, to get Covid under control," Klain said. "They are in a ‘show me, don’t tell me' mode. I think we are going to show them in the weeks and months ahead that we have made this progress on Covid. We have made this progress on the economy. We are past, now, the infrastructure bill."

Democrats came up short at the polls last week in Virginia as Republican Glenn Youngkin edged out former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. In New Jersey, incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was reelected in a surprisingly close contest.

The two states' off-year elections are often seen as an indicator of political sentiment headed into the midterm congressional elections.

The House approved the bipartisan infrastructure bill Friday, sending it to Biden's desk and delivering Democrats a win after months of haggling on Capitol Hill.

Klain argued the election alone didn't "put it over the line," instead touting months of work by Biden and congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Another major agenda item remains in a $1.75 trillion social spending package backed only by Democrats. The infrastructure bill was paired with the Democratic legislation, but that measure is on hold until later this month as House lawmakers await a full cost estimate for the package from the Congressional Budget Office.

Should the House pass that bill when it returns, it still faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where centrist Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have objected to numerous provisions backed by progressive Democrats. But Klain expressed optimism that the measure will also eventually land on Biden's desk.

"I think this bill will pass the House when the House comes back. I'm sure the Senate will make changes, that's the way the legislative process works," Klain said. "But we are going to get a very strong version of this bill through the House, through the Senate, to the president’s desk and into law."

In a separate interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, a former Michigan governor, was pressed for her takeaway from the disappointing results for Democrats last week.

"That we — thank God, and I think that the Democrats in the House got this message very loud and clear — pass the bill, right?" Granholm said ."And pass the second part too, because these contain things that everyday people care about."

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