Joe Biden faces growing pressure from both sides of the Democratic party as the U.S. president negotiates his $ 2.3tn infrastructure package, between moderates who want him to sign an agreement with Republicans and progressives who order him to step away from the negotiating table.
The tug-of-war between Democrats on Capitol Hill could prove problematic for Biden because he may already be making a decision that satisfies one part of his political base, but disappoints the other for a core element of his economic agenda.
Biden had initially proposed an ambitious $ 2.3 billion infrastructure package funded largely by a corporate tax rate increase – later last week, after several rounds of negotiations with Republicans. , lowered its target to $ 1.7 billion. Republicans had initially proposed a $ 568 billion plan, but have gradually increased their level of acceptable spending. Thursday, Republican lawmakers led by Shelley Moore understood West Virginia they are expected to put a new offer on the table for about $ 1tn.
Yet, there is a big gap between the two parties – including the fact that Republicans are still adverse to any tax increase to fund the plan, and have a much closer view of what should be classified as infrastructure spending compared to Democrats.
Some Democrats, particularly on the progressive side, are urging Biden to abandon negotiations with Republicans and move quickly toward passing the White House plan by wearing his very thin jerseys on Capitol Hill.
“They’re all for bipartisanship, but if Republicans aren’t serious allies, we should act without them,” Jeff Merkley, Oregon’s Democratic senator, wrote on Twitter this week. “We need clean energy, broadband and affordable housing, good roads and good jobs to be competitive in the 21st century.”
As a sign of growing concern on the left, Merkley also joined Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, fellow left-wing senators, in calling on Biden to move quickly to the next big point on the president’s economic agenda – a plan of $ 1.8 million social spending paid with tax increase on the rich. “This human infrastructure cannot be secondary to the needs of physical infrastructure or languishing under Republican obstructionism,” they wrote.
But the push from the left is countered by continued efforts by moderate Democrats to reach an agreement with Republicans, supporting Biden’s approach so far.
Tom Carper, the Democratic senator from Delaware and an ally of Biden, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday: “I think we might want to let it play out a little longer…. I’m not particularly willing to say how long, but a little more. “
Joe Manchin, the Senate’s most conservative Democrat whose support is seen as crucial in a high house that is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, has made a similar argument. This week he joined Mitt Romney, the Republican senator from Utah, and Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine, and a small group of bipartisan lawmakers, to negotiate an alternative compromise.
“We have a group of eight of us, four Democrats and four Republicans, who have come together on what we’re going to spend, and what the payments are going to be,” Romney said. “But we are in a second burn. . . the front fire is Shelley Moore Capito and the White House negotiation, and our work would be of interest only if it doesn’t start. ”
The president, who has served in the upper house of Congress for more than three decades and has lived on a record of reaching through political passage, has long said he wanted to make a bipartisan deal, rather than one. push a plan of taxes and expenses. with only democratic support using a Senate budget procedure called reconciliation.
But Biden and his team have also learned harsh lessons from Barack Obama’s presidency when his signed health care reform bill was blocked for weeks as they tried in vain to negotiate a deal with Republicans. Over time, the plan became less popular and resistance to it hardened on Capitol Hill and across the country. Yet, while patience is rapidly running out among progressive Democrats, moderates are still comfortable with extended discussions.
At a Financial Times event Tuesday, Manchin said he wanted an “open and fair” process that included politicians from both parties – and suggested he was willing to wait months for it to take place, even in the wake. next year.
“We have this Congress, the 117th Congress,” the West Virginia senator said, referring to the current two-year legislative session, which ends next year. “I would definitely get it before the end of the 117th Congress.”
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