‘Never a veto threat!’ Biden backtracks on tying bipartisan infrastructure deal to reconciliation


Joe Biden was forced to walk back on Saturday after Republican fury erupted over his comments making the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s passage reliant on Congress also passing his $2.5 trillion American Families Plan.

The president released a statement claiming he meant to show his continued support for the so-called ‘human infrastructure’ bill, and never intended to issue a ‘veto threat’.

‘[T]o be clear: our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan and other proposals in tandem,’ Biden said in his statement. ‘We will let the American people—and the Congress—decide.’

Biden, joined by a group of five Republican and five Democratic senators, announced from the White House driveway on Thursday that they had finally reached a deal on an infrastructure bill that could pass Congress with bipartisan support.

During a press conference on the deal later on Thursday, however, the president said: ‘If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it.’

He is now backtracking on that comment, claiming he only was trying to show his continued commitment to getting the American Families Plan passed in tandem with the $1.2 trillion American Jobs Plan.

‘At a press conference after announcing the bipartisan agreement, I indicated that I would refuse to sign the infrastructure bill if it was sent to me without my Families Plan and other priorities, including clean energy,’ Biden wrote in his statement released Saturday. ‘That statement understandably upset some Republicans, who do not see the two plans as linked; they are hoping to defeat my Families Plan—and do not want their support for the infrastructure plan to be seen as aiding passage of the Families Plan.’

‘My comments also created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent,’ he added.

President Joe Biden said  in a Saturday statement that he never intended to issue a ‘veto threat’ as he assured Republicans he is not linking the bipartisan infrastructure deal’s to passage of his American Families Plan

A group of 10 bipartisan lawmakers lined up behind Biden on Thursday to announce they reached a deal on an infrastructure bill. But shortly after, Republicans were infuriated when Biden said: 'If this is the only thing that comes to me, I'm not signing it'

A group of 10 bipartisan lawmakers lined up behind Biden on Thursday to announce they reached a deal on an infrastructure bill. But shortly after, Republicans were infuriated when Biden said: ‘If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it’

Biden lamented in his statement that rather than praising the deal, politicians immediately became focused on how his comments tied the passage of that bill to reconciliation.

‘In the days since [the deal was reached], the primary focus in Washington has not been about the Plan’s scope, scale or provisions—but rather, how it relates to other legislation before Congress: my American Families Plan,’ he wrote. ‘The American Families Plan… has broad support with the American people, but not among Republicans in Congress.’

The White House doubled-down on Friday that Biden will not sign the infrastructure bill unless a $3-6 trillion reconciliation bill passes first for the left’s ‘family infrastructure’ and climate initiatives.

But now Biden is walking back.

After the president’s press conference on Thursday about the deal, Republicans were outraged, claiming there were never any ‘side deals’ or agreements to now support the American Families Plan in tandem to the infrastructure bill.

Senator Lindsey Graham said Biden made Republicans like look ‘f***ing idiots’.

‘Most Republicans could not have known that. There’s no way,’ Graham told Politico. ‘I don’t mind bipartisanship, but I’m not going to do a suicide mission.’

The South Carolina senator was one of the 11 Republicans who supported the bipartisan infrastructure deal – but he is now backing out.

It is not clear how Graham, or the rest of the group, feel now that Biden has backtracked.

‘There was general displeasure and anger,’ said a senior GOP aide who listened in on a virtual meeting Friday between the lawmakers. They noted Graham was relatively quiet on the call.

Another aide to one of the 11 senators told Politico: ‘Demanding that we didn’t pass the bipartisan deal unless reconciliation was passed first was never part of the deal.’

On the call Republican Senators Mitt Romney, Rob Portman and Susan Collins were particularly enraged over Biden’s flip.

Lindsey Graham said Biden made the GOP look like 'f***ing idiots' by reaching a bipartisan deal on infrastructure and then publicly tying it to reconciliation with his American Families Plan

Lindsey Graham said Biden made the GOP look like ‘f***ing idiots’ by reaching a bipartisan deal on infrastructure and then publicly tying it to reconciliation with his American Families Plan

READ PRESIDENT BIDEN’S FULL STATEMENT DETANGLING BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL TO AMERICAN FAMILIES PLAN

Statement by President Joe Biden on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework 

On Thursday, I reached a historic agreement with a bipartisan group of Senators on a $1.2 trillion plan to transform our physical infrastructure. The plan would make the largest investment in infrastructure in history, the biggest investment in rail since the creation of Amtrak, and the largest investment in transit ever. It would fix roads and bridges, make critical investments in our clean energy future, and help this country compete with China and other economic rivals. It would replace lead water pipes in our schools and houses, and connect every American to high-speed internet. It would create millions of high-paying jobs that could not be outsourced.

In the days since, the primary focus in Washington has not been about the Plan’s scope, scale or provisions—but rather, how it relates to other legislation before Congress: my American Families Plan. The American Families Plan—which would make historic investments in education, health care, child care, and tax cuts for families, coupled with other investments in care for our seniors, housing, and clean energy—has broad support with the American people, but not among Republicans in Congress.

I have been clear from the start that it was my hope that the infrastructure plan could be one that Democrats and Republicans would work on together, while I would seek to pass my Families Plan and other provisions through the process known as reconciliation. There has been no doubt or ambiguity about my intention to proceed this way.

At a press conference after announcing the bipartisan agreement, I indicated that I would refuse to sign the infrastructure bill if it was sent to me without my Families Plan and other priorities, including clean energy. That statement understandably upset some Republicans, who do not see the two plans as linked; they are hoping to defeat my Families Plan—and do not want their support for the infrastructure plan to be seen as aiding passage of the Families Plan. My comments also created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent.

So to be clear: our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan and other proposals in tandem. We will let the American people—and the Congress—decide.

The bottom line is this: I gave my word to support the Infrastructure Plan, and that’s what I intend to do. I intend to pursue the passage of that plan, which Democrats and Republicans agreed to on Thursday, with vigor. It would be good for the economy, good for our country, good for our people. I fully stand behind it without reservation or hesitation.

Some other Democrats have said they might oppose the Infrastructure Plan because it omits items they think are important: that is a mistake, in my view. Some Republicans now say that they might oppose the infrastructure plan because I am also trying to pass the American Families Plan: that is also a mistake, in my view. I intend to work hard to get both of them passed, because our country needs both—and I ran a winning campaign for President that promised to deliver on both. No one should be surprised that that is precisely what I am doing.

I will ask Leader Schumer to schedule both the infrastructure plan and the reconciliation bill for action in the Senate. I expect both to go to the House, where I will work with Speaker Pelosi on the path forward after Senate action. Ultimately, I am confident that Congress will get both to my desk, so I can sign each bill promptly.

Graham, who was one of the 11 Republicans who supported the bipartisan deal, tweeted 'No deal by extortion!' on Friday

Graham, who was one of the 11 Republicans who supported the bipartisan deal, tweeted ‘No deal by extortion!’ on Friday

THE BREAKDOWN: HOW BIDEN PLANS TO PAY FOR HIS INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN

• Reduce the IRS tax gap – Raising a net of $100billion when $40 billion is invested in enforcement 

• Unemployment insurance program integrity – $72 billion when $8 billion invested

• Redirect unused unemployment insurance relief funds- $80 billion

• Repurpose unused relief funds from 2020 emergency relief legislation – $80 billion

• State and local investment in broadband infrastructure – $20billion

• Allow states to sell or purchase unused toll credits for infrastructure – $30billion

• Extend expiring customs user fees – $6.1billion

• Reinstate Superfund fees for chemicals – $13 billion

• 5G spectrum auction proceeds – $65 billion 

• Extend mandatory sequester – $9.2 billion

• Strategic petroleum reserve sale – $6 billion

• Public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds and asset recycling for infrastructure investment – $100 billion

• Macroeconomic impact of infrastructure investment

TOTAL: $584.3 BILLION 

On the call Republican Senators Mitt Romney, Rob Portman and Susan Collins were particularly enraged over Biden’s flip. 

‘No deal by extortion!’ Graham tweeted Friday morning, adding that the double-sell is a ‘deal breaker’.

‘It was never suggested to me during these negotiations that President Biden was holding hostage the bipartisan infrastructure proposal unless a liberal reconciliation package was also passed,’ he continued in a thread on the issue.

‘I can’t imagine any other Republican had that impression,’ Graham tweeted. ‘I can’t believe the Biden Administration expects such an obvious bait and switch tactic – motivated by fear of the Left – to work in the Senate and be respected by the American people.’

‘Between fear of the Left and general incompetence, the last six months of the Biden Administration have been a disaster,’ he added.

Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the five Republicans who stood behind Biden when he announced the deal on Thursday, told Politico he felt ‘blindsided’ by the all-or-nothing approach by the White House.

Portman made it clear linking the two pieces of legislation was never part of their deal with the White House.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not explicitly retract Biden’s comments during her briefing Friday in a readout of a call between Biden and centrist Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

She did not go as far, however, as to reissue Biden’s threat not to sign the bill without reconciliation.

Asked at the briefing if infrastructure is ‘stuck in a pothole,’ Psaki said: ‘Absolutely not.’

Senator Jerry Moran, another Republican member of the group, wants assurances from centrist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to make sure they are still on board with only supporting a bipartisan deal.  

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not repeat that threat, but doubled-down during a Friday press conference claiming that the two were reliant on each other

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not repeat that threat, but doubled-down during a Friday press conference claiming that the two were reliant on each other

Biden stepped out of the White House Thursday afternoon with a group of 10 senators – five Democrat and five Republican – to announce 'we have a deal' on an infrastructure package. Senators Mitt Romney, Rob Portman and Susan Collins specifically expressed ire over Biden typing the infrastructure bill to a massive reconciliation package for his leftist plans

Biden stepped out of the White House Thursday afternoon with a group of 10 senators – five Democrat and five Republican – to announce ‘we have a deal’ on an infrastructure package. Senators Mitt Romney, Rob Portman and Susan Collins specifically expressed ire over Biden typing the infrastructure bill to a massive reconciliation package for his leftist plans 

The other front Biden now has to face is the opposition to the bipartisan deal by far-left members of the party – although it appears the group of opposers is small.

Progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested that any bipartisan deal in Washington is inherently racist as she pointed out all lawmakers who reached the infrastructure compromise Thursday with Biden are white, just like the president.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested Thursday that all bipartisan deals in Washington, D.C. are inherently racist. AOC speaks before a Senate committee on June 23

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested Thursday that all bipartisan deals in Washington, D.C. are inherently racist. AOC speaks before a Senate committee on June 23

‘The diversity of this ‘bipartisan coalition’ pretty perfectly conveys which communities get centered and which get left behind when leaders prioritize bipartisan dealmaking over inclusive lawmaking (which prioritizes delivering the most impact possible for the most people),’ the New York progressive congresswoman tweeted Thursday.

She included a picture of the bipartisan group at the White House when they announced the deal. The group included the president, Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Warner and Jon Tester and Republican Senators Rob Portman, Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski.

Fellow progressive ‘squad member’ Rashida Tlaib tweeted Thursday that senators are more worried about the process of legislation than getting results.

‘They ‘love the process more than the outcome’ is an accurate description,’ she wrote. 

'The diversity of this 'bipartisan coalition' pretty perfectly conveys which communities get centered and which get left behind,' AOC tweeted along with an image of President Joe Biden with the bipartisan group of lawmakers, who are all white

‘The diversity of this ‘bipartisan coalition’ pretty perfectly conveys which communities get centered and which get left behind,’ AOC tweeted along with an image of President Joe Biden with the bipartisan group of lawmakers, who are all white

She said bipartisan packages usually exclude minority communities. 'That's how you get GOP on board,' she insisted

She said bipartisan packages usually exclude minority communities. ‘That’s how you get GOP on board,’ she insisted

Representative Ilhan Omar, another member of the ‘squad’, however, appears to agree with the step forward.

‘Communicating this unified plan clearly to the Senate allows us to focus on the details of the bills without fighting over strategy,’ she wrote.

Ocasio-Cortez continued in her own Twitter thread: ‘This is why a bipartisan pkg alone isn’t acceptable.’

‘The exclusion & denial of our communities is what DC bipartisan deals require,’ she added. ‘That’s how you get GOP on board : don’t do much/any for the working class & low income,or women, or poc communities, or unions,etc.’

She implored: ‘We must do more.’

Biden stepped out on the White House driveway Thursday afternoon with the bipartisan group of lawmakers to announce ‘we have a deal’ on an infrastructure package.

‘We had a really good meeting and to answer your direct question, we have a deal,’ the president told reporters. ‘I think it’s really important, we’ve all agreed that, none of us got all what we wanted, I clearly didn’t get all I wanted, they gave more than I think maybe they were inclined to give in the first place.’

Fellow progressive 'squad' member Rashida Tlaib tweeted Thursday that senators 'love the process more than the outcome' when it comes to legislation

Fellow progressive ‘squad’ member Rashida Tlaib tweeted Thursday that senators ‘love the process more than the outcome’ when it comes to legislation

Other 'squad; member Ilhan Omar, however, appeared on board because it 'allows us to focus on the details of the bills without fighting over strategy'

Other ‘squad; member Ilhan Omar, however, appeared on board because it ‘allows us to focus on the details of the bills without fighting over strategy’

Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that all members of the bipartisan group who reached the deal are white, and suggested that inherently makes the infrastructure deal racist in nature and exclusionary of minority communities.

‘[F]olks can sometimes come across as careless when saying ‘well isn’t something better than nothing?’ For many communities, their not having a seat at the table is a precondition for bipartisan deals to work in the 1st place. & that’s not only seen as normal, but valued,’ she tweeted.

‘Meanwhile, when representatives of excluded communities object to the exclusion &marginalization required to make many bipartisan deals work, they’re dismissed as ‘unreasonable.’ So who/what often benefits from this type of bipartisan dealmaking? Corporations & structural racism,’ the congresswoman continued.

She did clarify, however, that not ‘any/all bipartisan deals are bad’, but urged Americans and lawmakers to ‘actually read what’s inside them instead of assume bipartisan=good’.

‘Isn’t something better than nothing; assumes that none of the individuals involved agreed to harmful policies. A huge assumption,’ she concluded. 

The White House said the deal will include $1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending over an eight year period.  Over a five-year period there will be $973 billion in infrastructure spending. 

The proposal would be paid for by reducing the IRS tax gap – essentially going after tax cheats – as well as redirecting  unemployment insurance relief funds and repurposing unused funds from the 2020 relief legislation. 

‘We made serious compromises on both ends,’ Biden said. ‘This reminds me of the days we used to get an awful lot done in Congress,’ the president also said. 

Senator Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, said the two parties agreed on the ‘price tag, the scope and how to pay for it.’ 

At 2 p.m., Biden, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris, gave an address and took questions about the fresh deal from the East Room before departing on a planned trip to North Carolina where he asked Americans to urge their hesitant neighbors to get vaccinated against coronavirus. 

President Joe Biden (right), flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris (left), expanded on his remarks during an East Room speech and Q&A with reporters later Thursday afternoon before leaving for North Carolina

President Joe Biden (right), flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris (left), expanded on his remarks during an East Room speech and Q&A with reporters later Thursday afternoon before leaving for North Carolina

The president said he didn’t have a ‘guarantee’ that the deal etched would pass, but explained why he was optimistic. 

‘I don’t have any guarantee, but what I do have is a pretty good read over the years of how the Congress or the Senate works,’ Biden said. ‘And the idea that … because someone’s not going to be able to get every single thing they want, they’re going to vote against some of things I just named, with nothing in here that’s quote-‘bad’ for the environment, bad for the economy, bad for the transportation, is unlikely.’ 

He added that while his party may be ‘divided’ – between a progressive and a more moderate wing – they’re also ‘rational.’  

Biden also talked about his lengthy relationship with members of the Senate, a body that he became a member of at age 30. 

‘Where I come from and in my years in the Senate, the single greatest currency you have is your word, keeping your word,’ Biden said. 

‘Mitt Romney’s never broken his word to me. The senator from Alaska, the senator … from Maine, they’ve never broken their word – they’re friends,’ he said, referring to Republicans Murkowski and Collins. ‘And so the people I was with today are people that I truth.’ 

‘I don’t agree with them on a lot of things, but I trust them when I say this is a deal, we’ll stick to the deal,’ he added. ‘Just like I doubt you’ll find any one of them who will say they don’t trust me when I say, ‘OK, this is a deal, on these issues, this is a deal we’ll stick with.” 

Biden also said that just because the deal was worked out, he wouldn’t try to push to get more of his priorities funded, including a large environmental tax credit. 

Biden’s original ‘American Jobs Plan’ was to cost $2 trillion. 

The Democratic president wanted to pay for the plan by bumping back up the corporate tax rate, which was decreased in 2017 as part of the tax bill signed by then President Donald Trump and backed by Congressional Republicans. 

Biden wanted it hiked from 21 per cent to 28 per cent. 

Republicans, however, balked at eroding any of the Trump-era tax breaks. 

President Joe Biden leads a bipartisan group of senators to the microphones on the White House driveway, announcing that they'd come together on a deal on an infrastructure package

President Joe Biden leads a bipartisan group of senators to the microphones on the White House driveway, announcing that they’d come together on a deal on an infrastructure package

Biden also wanted to uphold a campaign promise of not upping taxes on any American making under $400,000 annually. 

He boasted that he had been successful during the East Room address. 

‘We’re going to do it all without raising a cent from earners below $400,000,’ Biden said. ‘There’s no gas tax increase, no fee on electric vehicles.’

Republicans also touted their negotiating successes. 

In documents being shared by Portman’s office, according to PBS Newshour, GOP wins included no changes being made to the 2017 tax bill and other ‘responsible pay-fors,’ including repurposing $125 billion in COVID stimulus dollars for infrastructure projects instead. 

The GOP also touted that the slimmed down bill would solely cover infrastructure priorities and not ‘human’ infrastructure like paid family leave.  

President Joe Biden (right) speaks with Sen. Jon Tester (left), a Montana Democrat, outside the White House Thursday

President Joe Biden (right) speaks with Sen. Jon Tester (left), a Montana Democrat, outside the White House Thursday 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg arrives at President Joe Biden's East Room event to tout the bipartisan infrastructure bill framework

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg arrives at President Joe Biden’s East Room event to tout the bipartisan infrastructure bill framework 

In order to make up for some of the spending Democrats wanted, lawmakers want to pair the infrastructure package with another bill, which would be pushed through using the Senate reconciliation process – meaning it can bypass a Republican filibuster if all 50 Senate Democrats are on board. 

‘This is important,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at her weekly press conference earlier Thursday. ‘There ain’t going to be a bipartisan bill without a reconciliation bill.’   

Biden told reporters in the East Room that he supported Pelosi’s plan to have the Senate pass both the infrastructure bill and then a second bill via reconciliation before the House picked them up. 

‘The bipartisan bill, from the very beginning, was understood there was going to be the second part of it. I’m not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest that I proposed,’ Biden said. ‘I proposed a significant piece of legislation in three parts. And all there parts are equally important.’  

If Biden gets the infrastructure deal passed, it will be the second significant piece of legislation he’ll sign since coming into office in January. 

Biden signed the $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan – the COVID-19 economic relief bill – into law in March.   

He has also proposed an ‘American Families Plan,’ which tackles areas like childcare and early education. 



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