Joe Biden will fly to La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Tuesday to sell his $ 1tn bipartisan infrastructure plan to voters in the Midwestern swing state.
The vast legislative package the president is to launch includes an unprecedented amount of federal investment in America’s rail network and bridges, and the development of a national network of electric vehicle chargers and an expansion of access to broadband at high speed.
But there is a downside. Back in Washington, the prospects of the bipartisan agreement they are in doubt, after Biden last week slammed his announcement effectively threatening to veto legislation unless it is tied to a more ambitious anti-poverty spending package.
This second package, known as the American Families Act, is not expected to gain any Republican support and Democratic congressional leaders hope to branch through a divided Senate on a party-to-party vote using a parliamentary procedure called reconciliation.
Biden’s subtle veiled veto threat has provoked outbursts of anger from Republicans, including those who helped develop the bipartisan deal, who feel the president is engaging in “exit and change tactics.” He also questioned one of his main selling points – whether he was a Washington operator with experience in pulling out legislative prospects.
Doug Heye, a Republican strategist and former member of Congress, said the president has “jumped the gun,” adding, “Presidents don’t do that. When you say we have an agreement, that usually means everyone is on the same page. That was clearly not the case. “
Jim Manley, an aide to Harry Reid, a former Democratic leader of the Nevada Senate, said: “All of this could blow for a number of reasons. There’s no denying that the president’s comments last week caused a bit of a stir. ”
Saturday Biden tried to limit the fall of his comments, in a lengthy statement in which he apologized for having “the impression that we have a veto threat.”
U U-turn abruptly it might have satisfied some moderate Republicans, but it sparked outrage among Progressive Democrats, who are more enthusiastic about the $ 1.8 million anti-poverty package than the bipartisan bill. They are increasingly paying attention to the president’s efforts to appease Republicans and Conservative members of his own party – namely Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Cinema, senators from West Virginia and Arizona, respectively.
Several members of the left-wing house – including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman – joined activists of the progressive Sunrise movement outside the White House on Monday, protesting the lack of climate measures in the agreement bipartite. Protesters held placards saying, “Biden, or cowards fight for us” and sang, “No weather, no agreement.”
The complicated political framework demonstrates the difficult balancing act that Biden must do if he is to fulfill his campaign promise to get through the political passage while alleviating the concerns of a progressive left-wing base that has helped put him in the House. White in the first place.
The bipartisan agreement will need the support of at least 10 Republican senators – plus one Republican for every Democrat who fails and votes against the agreement – if it is to become law. Given the meager majority of Democrats in the House, speaker Nancy Pelosi also needs to stage a rebellion by Ocasio-Cortez and others if the deal is to pass the lower house.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, asked Biden on Monday to instruct Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi to formally “delinquent” the bipartisan agreement on the reconciliation package.
“Unless Chief Schumer and Speaker Pelosi reject their threats… Then President Biden’s march behind his veto threat would be a hollow gesture,” McConnell said. “The president cannot let Congress Democrats hold back a bipartisan project for a separate and partisan process.”
On Monday, the White House said Biden had now clarified his position, and that the president was making every effort to get both the bipartisan agreement and the largest reconciliation package signed into law.
But Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, has refused to be drawn into specifics – including whether Schumer and Pelosi should change tails and unravel bills – arguing that it’s up to them to advance legislation in Congress.
“The most important role.” . . that the president thinks he can play. . . it’s about paying attention to the American people, to the public, about how officials work together to deliver for them. ”
Psaki added: “That’s exactly where his focus will be, and certainly will [he] work in close coordination with congressional leaders, but it’s up to them to determine the sequence of legislation. ”
Capitol Hill veterans warn that McConnell’s threats should not be taken lightly, and that the Republican senator from Kentucky could scupper the legislation before the end of the summer. He was not part of the bipartisan talks on infrastructure, and did not say whether he would support the resulting agreement.
“[McConnell] try to wait their time to see if they can cross the line or not, “Heye said.” Don’t spend any political capital until it’s time to do it. If they have a feasible agreement, it’s a thing, but until he does, he’s going to post like him. ”
Manley agreed, saying: “Senator McConnell played his first hand [on Monday] when he actively began to undermine negotiations. The way to play remains to be seen. ”
Manley said there was “no freelancer” in the Republican Senate caucus, adding, “In the end, they will do whatever McConnell asks of them.”
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