Top Democrats said they won’t support a Senate bipartisan infrastructure deal unless there is a guarantee they can pass a massive spending package alongside it that would pay for free college, universal preschool, new healthcare subsidies, green energy initiatives, and other liberal wish list proposals.
Democrats are banking on a “two-step” approach that would pair a narrow infrastructure measure costing roughly $1 trillion with a bill that could cost up to six times as much and would cover what the party describes as “human infrastructure.” The second bill would pass using a budgetary tactic called reconciliation, which allows some legislation to pass the Senate with only 51 votes rather than the usual 60.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday she won’t even consider the narrow infrastructure bill unless the reconciliation package first passes the Senate along with it.
“There ain’t going to be no bipartisan bill unless we have the reconciliation bill,” the California Democrat told reporters Thursday.
Lawmakers met with President Joe Biden Thursday to discuss the framework of the $1 trillion infrastructure deal.
A group of nearly two dozen senators from both parties has been working on a bipartisan deal for weeks, struggling with how to pay for $529 billion in new spending that is part of the narrow infrastructure package.
On Wednesday, lawmakers said they had reached a general accord on the framework with the White House.
But the party’s liberal base is uncomfortable with the strategy and fear only the $1 trillion deal will make it across the finish line, leaving the larger package to die in the Senate.
Pelosi signaled Thursday she won’t let one pass without the other.
The “human infrastructure” measure could cost several trillion dollars. President Joe Biden has proposed $400 billion in funding for the care of the elderly and disabled, $100 billion in electric vehicle tax credits, money for universal preschool and free community college, and increased government subsidies for Obamacare. Senate Democrats want to add even more funding for homeless housing and to lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 60.
To pass both measures together, at least 10 Senate Republicans must agree to pass the narrow infrastructure bill, and every Democrat will have to vote for the more expensive “human infrastructure” component. Centrist Democrats are already warning they have limits on the price tag of the second measure and do not support Biden’s plan to pay for it by hiking the corporate tax rate to 28%.
Pelosi, aware of the odds in the Senate, threw a little cold water on the prospect of the two-step deal. Both bills must first pass the Senate, she said.
“We’re not going down the path unless we go down the path together,” Pelosi said.
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: Democrats flash warning light on infrastructure ‘deal’