The Biden White House said Saturday that he does not plan to veto a “compromise” infrastructure bill inked in a deal between moderate Republicans and Democrats late last week, despite indications from the White House that the president and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) would tie passing the compromise bill to an agreement not to filibuster other landmark legislation.
“President Biden walked back comments tying the fate of a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure agreement to a separate, Democratic effort to pass a broad anti-poverty plan, recommitting to the bipartisan deal after Republicans threatened to withdraw their support,” The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The “anti-poverty plan” is the second, more expansive “infrastructure bill” that includes trillions of dollars in spending for “childcare, education, and other Democratic priorities paid for with tax increases on corporations and high-income Americans” — the bill that Democrats had promoted with an extensive campaign widening the definition of “infrastructure.”
The plan inked last week, by contrast, deals mostly with physical infrastructure improvements and contains grants for roads, bridges, and railways.
“The bottom line is this: I gave my word to support the Infrastructure Plan, and that’s what I intend to do. I intend to pursue the passage of that plan, which Democrats and Republicans agreed to on Thursday, with vigor,” the president said in a statement, which added that the president plans to travel to Capitol Hill this week to hash out details of the agreement.
Biden shocked Republicans, both on the team negotiating the compromise infrastructure bill and Republicans in Congress, generally, when, Thursday, he tried to “[reassure] progressive Democrats who sought a guarantee that the Biden administration would still seek a second package,” the WSJ noted, and heavily implied that he would require Republicans to agree not to filibuster the second “infrastructure bill” in order to pass the first one.
Now, Biden says he is fully committed to both bills.
“I intend to work hard to get both of them passed because our country needs both—and I ran a winning campaign for President that promised to deliver on both. No one should be surprised that that is precisely what I am doing,” he said.
For now, CNN noted, Congressional Republicans say they’re willing to accept Biden at his word, that he will not try to renegotiate what is currently a closed deal.
“Republican senators, who were enraged to hear Biden deliver an ultimatum that he wouldn’t sign the $1.2 trillion deal without a much larger and more partisan bill alongside, accepted his public walk-back in television appearances on Sunday morning,” CNN reported Sunday.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), one of the leaders of the compromise deal told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I am totally confident the President will sign it if it comes to his desk.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) was less sure in his own interview with NBC.
“We’ll see going forward,” he said, “but I’ll continue to work for the bill.”