Politics Two more Democrats signal opposition to bipartisan infrastructure deal
After 1st round fails, where do infrastructure talks stand?
Almost as soon as infrastructure talks died, they were resurrected under new leadership. © Samuel Corum/Getty Images While President Joe Biden jets off to Europe to attend to international matters, a coalition of Senate Democrats and Republicans are huddled up at the Capitol charting what they hope will be a new path forward on infrastructure. New negotiations bring a whole new host of questions about how a deal on what has become a politically divisive package might be struck and what that deal might look like. Wait. Aren't infrastructure talks over? Think again.
Two Democratic senators on Tuesday signaled they will oppose a $974 billion, five-year bipartisan infrastructure proposal unveiled last week, faulting it for not doing enough to halt climate change.
Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told reporters they will only support an infrastructure package that is part of a broader guaranteed agreement to invest massively into clean energy infrastructure and urged their party leaders to immediately begin the budget reconciliation process to allow legislation to pass the Senate with only Democratic votes.
Bipartisan talks sow division among Democrats
Democratic lawmakers are splitting apart over whether it makes sense to continue negotiating with Republicans on a scaled-down infrastructure package after President Biden ended talks with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the lead Republican negotiator on infrastructure. A new group of Senate negotiators is looking to pick up where Biden and Capito left off, but that's not welcome news to progressive Democrats, who think too much time has already been spent trying to reach an elusive bipartisan infrastructure deal.
Asked if he could vote for the bipartisan proposal laid out by a group of 10 senators last week if promised a broader reconciliation bill will come to the Senate floor soon after, Markey said, "I could not."
"I agree that we have many opportunities to put together a progressive tax package in order to pay for the infrastructure climate bill. All working ingredients are there," he said at a press conference. "Obviously there were tax cuts that were given back in the Trump early years. There are other areas where we can look at that will provide the revenue stream that will pay for this program."
Markey made his comments a day after Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another prominent progressive, saidthe bipartisan framework because of what he considers a lack of "progressive" ideas for paying for it.
On The Money: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal, warn of time crunch
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"I wouldn't vote for it," Sanders said Monday evening. "The bottom line is there are needs facing this country. Now is the time to address those needs and it has to be paid for in a progressive way given the fact that we have massive income, wealth inequality in America."
Merkley said any bipartisan scaled-down infrastructure package would have to be "welded" to a promise from all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to vote for a larger reconciliation package, with the components of that package laid out in advance, to get his vote.
"If we're looking at a deal on infrastructure going to the floor that does not have the energy investments in it and [for] which there has not been a deal worked out on reconciliation to have those energy investments, then absolutely not, I will not support the package," Merkley said.
Earlier, Merkley said, "When the ship sails on infrastructure, energy investments cannot be left on the talks."
Senators face roadblocks to passing bipartisan infrastructure plan as opposition mounts
Ten senators are trying to sell their colleagues on a bipartisan infrastructure plan, but they are facing skepticism from some Democrats.The bipartisan proposal crafted by 10 senators would focus on transportation, broadband and water, and would not raise taxes to offset costs. A handful of Democrats who seek a broader plan that addresses climate change and social programs, paid for by increasing taxes on corporations or the wealthy, have opposed the framework.
"If there's no climate, there's no deal," he added.
With as many as three potential no votes in the Democratic caucus, the bipartisan infrastructure proposal would likely need a dozen Republican votes to have a chance of passing - a level of support that has yet to emerge from the GOP conference.
Time is running short for the five Senate Democrats and five Senate Republicans who unveiled the proposal last week.
Senior White House adviser Steve Ricchetti told House Democratic lawmakers Tuesday morning that President Biden will give the bipartisan Senate groupto hammer out the details of their proposal and build more political support before Democrats move on to the reconciliation process.
Markey on Tuesday urged Democratic leaders to move beyond the bipartisan talks and begin setting up budget reconciliation immediately, which would allow a major infrastructure proposal to bypass a Senate Republican filibuster.
"It's time for us to go our own way. This is as clear as day. No climate, no deal. We need to move forward with 50 Democratic votes now that the Republicans have shown us they are not serious about creating clean energy jobs, jumpstarting a clean energy revolution or adding the standards and investments we need to attack this crisis," Markey said.
"We should wrap up our work on a climate infrastructure bill by the August recess. We should wrap up all of the infrastructure bills - climate and family - by the August break. We shouldn't leave from here until we get it done," he said.
White House stands firm against increasing gas tax as Biden, senators prepare to meet on infrastructure .
President Biden repeated his opposition to raising the federal gas tax as he and a bipartisan group of senators negotiate on an infrastructure plan.A bipartisan group of 21 senators identified public-private partnerships, redirecting money previously allocated for COVID-19 relief, and "indexing" the federal gas tax annually to match inflation as possible funding options for their $1.2 trillion infrastructure framework, according to a draft outline obtained by USA TODAY.