Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) released a statement on Monday pushing Democrats to stick with a bipartisan compromise infrastructure bill and urging President Joe Biden to demand one.
“The President has appropriately delinked a potential bipartisan infrastructure bill from the massive, unrelated tax-and-spend plans that Democrats want to pursue on a partisan basis. Now I am calling on President Biden to engage Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi and make sure they follow his lead,” McConnell said.
“Unless Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi walk back their threats that they will refuse to send the president a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they also separately pass trillions of dollars for unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism, then President Biden’s walk-back of his veto threat would be a hollow gesture,” he added.
“Republicans have been negotiating in bipartisan good faith to meet the real infrastructure needs of our nation,” he concluded. “The President cannot let congressional Democrats hold a bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process.”
The comments come after the president sent a wave of confusion and panic into the political sphere over the weekend when he seemed to imply last week that he would veto an infrastructure bill if it was not accompanied by other legislation.
As The Daily Wire reported, “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.’”
Biden indicated that he would only pass the first bill if the second, broader bill was included, potentially causing Republicans to pull their support. He later walked back those previous statements, clarifying his position on the two bills in a statement released by The White House over the weekend.
In a statement, Biden said, “At a press conference after announcing the bipartisan agreement, I indicated that I would refuse to sign the infrastructure bill if it was sent to me without my Families Plan and other priorities, including clean energy.”
“That statement understandably upset some Republicans, who do not see the two plans as linked,” he said, adding, “they are hoping to defeat my Families Plan—and do not want their support for the infrastructure plan to be seen as aiding passage of the Families Plan.”
“My comments also created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent,” he said.
Biden also called out some members of his own party saying that “[s]ome other Democrats have said they might oppose the Infrastructure Plan because it omits items they think are important: that is a mistake, in my view.”
Many Republicans seemed to be satisfied with Biden’s reassurance. On ABC’s “This Week,” Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) said that he “was very glad to see the president clarify his remarks because it was inconsistent with everything we had been told along the way,” per The New York Times, adding, “I’m glad they’ve now been de-linked and we can move forward with a bipartisan bill that is broadly popular not just among members of Congress but the American people.”
As noted by The Hill, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) said late last week, “Let me be really clear on this: We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill. If there is no bipartisan bill, then we’ll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill.”
“A spokesman clarified that she was talking about the Democratic infrastructure plan itself and not just the budget resolution,” per The Hill.
It is unclear what the Democrats’ strategy might be going forward. Last week, however, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) made similar comments, alluding to the need for the two bills to be connected.
“One can’t be done without the other. … We can’t get the bipartisan bill done unless we’re sure of getting the budget reconciliation bill done. We can’t get the budget reconciliation bill done unless we’re sure to get the bipartisan — and I think our members, across the spectrum, realize that,” Schumer told the media after meeting with White House officials last Wednesday.
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