House Democrats have agreed to a two-track, bipartisan strategy Senate Democrats are attempting to pass a major infrastructure package with the help of Republicans.
The plan would allow the Senate to pass a narrow infrastructure proposal that could win Republican support and a second measure that includes massive noninfrastructure spending that could pass without any GOP votes.
While Senate Democrats have publicly announced support for the plan, signoff by House Democrats is critical.
On Tuesday, House Democratic Conference Chairman Hakeem Jeffries signaled Democratic lawmakers are willing to give it a shot.
“The White House made it clear to us that we should be prepared to proceed on two tracks,” Jeffries said after meeting with fellow Democrats for a weekly caucus meeting in person for the first time in months.
He added later, “We are going to lean into the bipartisan discussions that are underway with legitimacy and authenticity. We’d like to find common ground with the other side.”
Senate Democrats and Republicans have been pursuing a bipartisan infrastructure deal for several weeks but have yet to secure a deal. A gang of five Republicans and five Democrats is closing in on a new proposal that would spend less than a trillion dollars on roads, bridges, waterways, and broadband, among other traditional infrastructure projects.
President Joe Biden has been insistent on finding a way to pass an infrastructure bill with some Republican support and is backing the effort in the Senate. The White House ended talks last week with Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito after declaring the GOP offer of less than $1 trillion insufficient.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer signaled the new round of bipartisan talks would be more appealing to both Democrats and Biden.
Under the two-track proposal Senate Democrats envision, lawmakers would first vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill followed by a second measure that is unlikely to draw any Republican support.
It would include hundreds of billions of dollars in spending on programs supporting caregivers, providing universal preschool, and funding free community college. The second measure would also raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
If the Senate is able to pass the two measures, it would require the House to clear the bills for Biden’s signature.
House Democratic leaders said they are willing to wait on the Senate, even as House committees consider parts of their own infrastructure proposal, which has no Republican support and includes billions dedicated to green energy spending the GOP opposes.
“I think we are going to give this process some time,” Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Pete Aguilar, a California lawmaker, said. “We are going to have this two-track process, and we are going to operate under the assumption that Republicans will work with us in good faith. As the president has talked about before, building bipartisanship under this dome is hard, but the policies that we are advocating are incredibly popular in a bipartisan framework.”
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: House Democrats embrace Biden bid for a bipartisan infrastructure bill