President Joe Biden is already backing away from his multi-trillion-dollar “infrastructure” plan and the White House is reportedly plotting away to separate the bill into smaller, individual measures, in order to get Republican support, according to The Washington Post.
The Biden administration had likely hoped the massive bill, which includes money for physical infrastructure improvements but also a host of welfare programs aimed at expanding the role of government across the board, could pass through the Senate using “reconciliation,” a procedural method that allows a simple majority of Senators to pass budget-related bills.
But recent statements from “moderate” Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who would need to be in lockstep with the Democrat caucus for reconciliation to be successful seem to indicate Manchin and others would not support passing a multi-trillion-dollar measure without bipartisan input. Manchin is also opposed, outright, to Biden’s plan to pay for his infrastructure bill: a massive tax hike.
Last week, Manchin told the media that the sheer size of the bill makes him “uncomfortable.”
“Are we going to be able to be competitive and be able to pay for what we need in the country? We’ve got to figure out what our needs are, and maybe make some adjustment,” he said.
With the plan crumbling, Biden and Democrats close to the White House are seeking a different approach.
“President Biden and top Democrats are signaling privately they are willing to make concessions over Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, or break it into chunks if that will attract even a handful of Republican votes and allow them to notch a bipartisan win, people familiar with the strategy say,” the Post reported Sunday.
“The president spoke recently with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and suggested he was contemplating her counteroffer of roughly $568 billion more seriously than he viewed the Republican response to his coronavirus relief legislation, which he dismissed quickly as inadequate,” the outlet added.
Senate Democrats are following suit, “meeting regularly with their Republican counterparts,” using the mantra “’slow, steady and piecemeal’” “to signal their willingness to seek bipartisanship on smaller-scale bills, even if that doesn’t square neatly with Biden’s initial vision of immediate transformational change.”
Democrats likely believe that more middle-of-the-road Republicans, like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), could be open to voting for a major hike in government spending if certain specific provisions are removed from the bill — or that Republicans may agree to vote for a bill that gives billions to physical infrastructure improvements in return for concessions on the more nebulous “infrastructure” proposals in Biden’s “American Families Plan” — proposals that include everything from universal free preschool to two years of free community college.
Moderate Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) have already indicated they’re open to such a compromise.
“There’s a way forward here if the White House is willing to work with us,” Portman told Meet the Press on Sunday.
Collins said nearly the same thing last week.
“This is going to be a test for Joe Biden. The Joe Biden that I knew in the Senate was always interested in negotiation,” Collins told reporters. “This is going to be a test on whether President Biden is truly interested in bipartisanship. If he is, we can get there on the core infrastructure package. And by that, it means roads, bridges, highways, rail, waterways, and of course, broadband.”
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