Politics White House dodges question on size of Democratic infrastructure bill
Biden's infrastructure balancing act could topple Democrats in the midterms
Biden’s and the Democratic leaderships’ success — or lack thereof — on these negotiations could determine whether or not Democrats can maintain their control of government in the 2022 midterms. © Getty Images President Biden In a noteworthy effort to make good on his promise to work across the aisle, Biden has engaged Republicans in negotiations on a traditional infrastructure bill. At the same time, in order to appease progressives, Biden will likely push for the passage of his multi-trillion dollar "family infrastructure" package through the Senate's budget reconciliation process.
The White House dodged a question Monday on the size of an infrastructure proposal that Democrats are aiming to pass through the budget reconciliation process, allowing them to sidestep a GOP filibuster.
"I will say that, as it relates to the budget reconciliation process, that of course is for members of the Senate to work through what they can all collectively support together to get enough votes," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday's press briefing in response to a reporter's question on whether the administration had decided on a dollar amount for the bill.
Bipartisan House group backs infrastructure deal, calling for vote
The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus on Tuesday backed the infrastructure deal endorsed by President Biden.The caucus, which includes 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans, also urged "an expeditious, stand-alone vote" in the House for the proposal. The senators' bipartisan plan is similar to one offered by the caucus in June.
Psaki said President Biden will advocate for certain provisions to be included in the eventual legislation but did not specify a preferred price tag.
"The president will continue to advocate for components of his Build Back Better agenda, the American Families Plan, components he's laid out in his budget and pieces of his American Jobs Plan that were not included in the bipartisan package," Psaki said, adding that "those will be his priorities" as he talks with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other lawmakers.
Sanders, who has said Democrats are considering a measure that could, has said he will not support the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill without a larger measure that Democrats could pass without any Republican votes. Democratic leadership is pursuing a two-track system to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the separate bill through budget reconciliation.
Leaving climate provisions out infrastructure package is bad policy — and bad politics
The political risk Democrats face is not in going too big on climate — it’s in going too small.We work at Data for Progress, a progressive polling firm and think-tank, where we run polling and message testing on the top political and policy questions of the day. Our latest polling with Climate Power finds that the climate provisions in the American Jobs Plan (AJP) actually make the American Jobs Plan more popular - even among independents and Republicans.
"Back in April, when the president said we would move forward on two tracks - that we would seek a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure and that we would work with Democrats on a budget reconciliation process that included key components of the American Families Plan - there was some skepticism about the possibility of that moving forward and that's a diplomatic definition of how the broad reaction was," Psaki said.
She said the same kind of reaction is happening now with the reconciliation package.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to take up both the bipartisan bill and a budget resolution, which would pave the way for the larger Democratic measure, before the Senate starts its August recess.
Psaki said Biden will be engaged with lawmakers during the negotiations process and invite members of Congress to the White House for discussions as needed.
When asked how confident the White House was on the bipartisan infrastructure deal passing the Senate, Psaki said, "We're ready for it."
The bipartisan bill will require support from at least 60 senators in the 50-50 Senate. Progressives have raised concerns about voting for the legislation unless there's a guarantee of passing a larger reconciliation bill.
Big Deadlines Stand Between Congress and Its Hot Vaxx Recess .
Schumer hopes the threat of spending August in D.C. will spark movement on the infrastructure deal and the budget reconciliation.This year, the pressure point of the August Recess is being applied to the two interrelated packages of legislation that have been dominating Congress like a heat dome squatting over the Chesapeake Bay: the bipartisan infrastructure legislation on which an extremely tentative deal was announced at the White House on June 24, and a Fiscal Year 2022 budget resolution needed to authorize a Democrats-only budget-reconciliation bill to enact as much of Biden’s remaining agenda as possible under special rules that don’t allow for a filibuster.