House Democrats on Tuesday urged party leaders to ditch President Joe Biden’s pursuit of bipartisanship and swiftly pass his multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure and family plans with or without the GOP.
Led by Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Jimmy Panetta (Calif.), nearly 60 House Democrats wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), pushing them to combine Biden’s roughly $2 trillion infrastructure bill with his $1.8 trillion families plan to create a “single, ambitious package combining physical and social investments hand in hand,” even if Congress has to sacrifice Republican support on the measure.
“We appreciate the White House’s interest in reaching across the aisle to seek Republican support for overwhelmingly popular infrastructure priorities to invest in caregiving, workforce development, the environment, housing, and education, and to make the very wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes to reduce inequality,” the lawmakers wrote. “While bipartisan support is welcome, the pursuit of Republican votes cannot come at the expense of limiting the scope of popular investments.”
A group of Senate Republicans have signaled a willingness to strike a deal with Biden on infrastructure, as Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) led the effort and introduced a $568 billion counter-offer to Biden’s massive infrastructure blueprint.
But the president gave the group until Tuesday to present a new proposal to the White House, a meeting that senators described as “productive,” though there’s reportedly still no progress on an agreed price tag, how the bill would be funded and how many years it would cover.
“We’ve reworked our original proposal and they’re just going to look at it in more detail,” Capito said after the meeting. “Their view is still a lot broader than ours in what constitutes infrastructure."
Democrats, however, dubbed the GOP’s counter-proposal “a joke” and “a slap in the face.” Lawmakers who signed the letter cited several reasons to abandon negotiations with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle, including Republicans’ “widespread climate denial” that “poses a threat to the bold, necessary action on climate that President Biden and Congressional Democrats have long championed.”
The House Democrats later added, “We ask that you work with the White House to prioritize transformative legislation that our voters were promised, which may require reforming or even eliminating the Senate filibuster as well as wielding the full powers available of the presidency, vice presidency, and relevant federal agencies to achieve these goals.”
Democrats who signed the letter include Reps. Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Mondaire Jones (N.Y.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Richie Torres (N.Y.).
Republicans argue that the Democratic vision on an extensive infrastructure overhaul covers sectors that go beyond traditional infrastructure, like roads and bridges.
Biden’s plan also offers federal support for care-economy measures, including free community college, expanded child tax credit, universal pre-kindergarten and affordable housing.
While Pelosi and Schumer have stood behind the president’s efforts toward bipartisanship, House Democrats “fully expect” that the congressional duo will end up moving forward on a bill that excludes GOP lawmakers from negotiations.
Biden “wants to see progress by Memorial Day,” according to Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the president.
“The president is committed to investing in our middle class and our infrastructure, and is working with both parties—reaching across the aisle in good faith—to negotiate about achieving that,” Bates said.
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.