New infrastructure deal faces Democratic resistance

Several members of the Senate Democratic Caucus threatened to oppose it, before 10 senators from both sides announced a comprehensive agreement on an eight-year $1.2 trillion plan on Thursday, with the group from finalizing many details. Threatened the first attempt. .

The criticism has intensified by the day, underlining rising tensions within the ranks as moderates urge their allies to show patience and Democratic leaders struggle to find a deal that will pass the Senate 50-50. and please the various factions within his party.

“Let’s face it. It’s time to move on,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, told CNN on talks with the bipartisan group. “The Republicans have held us back for a long time.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said: “I don’t believe this bipartisan group will reach an agreement. They should have a limited amount of time to do this. I really think it’s time to pull the plug and act quickly and firmly. has arrived… I worry about wasting time.”

“We don’t have time to waste,” the Connecticut Democrat said.

The public rebuke is taking place even as White House and Senate Democratic leaders are giving negotiators on both sides time to see if they can cut a deal that could pass Congress, a bipartisan group of 10 senators said on Thursday that they had reached an agreement. A comprehensive framework” and that it “will be fully paid for and will not include tax hikes.”

The challenge for the White House and Democratic leaders – if they support the plan – will be to convince the Left that the priorities left by the bipartisan deal will eventually be turned into the next resolution Democrats want to pass along party lines. Huh. Through the filibuster-proof budget process.

Of the $1.2 trillion in the bipartisan group’s proposal, $578 billion would be in new spending. The cost would be $947 billion over five years, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

But the details still need to be written and it faces an uphill task in securing enough support to become law.

Democratic leaders say they are following Biden’s massive infrastructure and social safety net package along a bipartisan and partisan track. As bipartisan talks continue, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer prepares to begin the budget process next month, setting the stage for moving a bill along straight party lines, something that only succeeds. Maybe when all 50 Democrats support a process called reconciliation.

“We’re on two tracks: a bipartisan track and a reconciliation track, and both of them are moving forward,” Schumer told CNN on Thursday.

Yet many Democrats say that whatever bipartisan deal goes ahead, they are unlikely to garner widespread support within the caucus.

Democratic senator says his party must move on infrastructure without GOP: 'We can't just twitch our thumbs'

Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, warned, “I think it’s pretty clear to those negotiators, that we’re rooting for them, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll pay for the package they produced.” 50 Democratic votes.”

In particular, Democrats are expressing concerns about how the package will be paid – as Republican senators say there will be no tax hikes and as Democrats ask corporations and higher incomes to pay for the plan. New taxes have been demanded on the people. But the bipartisan group is instead considering redirecting already implemented Covid-19 relief funds, while raising the gas tax subject to inflation – views many Democrats flatly oppose.

When asked about Republicans’ refusal to raise taxes to help pay for the plan, Hawai’i Sen. Mazi Hirono said “I completely disagree”.

The divisions underscore regional differences not only within the Democratic caucus. Many MPs from the bipartisan group come from states outside the Northeast Corridor, where residents rely heavily on rail and public transport.

“I get worried when I see groups of senators that don’t include members of the Northeast Corridor who really care to make sure we dramatically change transit times,” Murphy said. ”

Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey said he is “certain” that bipartisan talks will not produce “what I think we have to do for the people of Pennsylvania”, implementing both Biden’s $1.8 trillion American family plan and $2.3 trillion. called upon to Trillion American Jobs Plan.

Biden relied on transatlantic phone calls to salvage infrastructure priorities

But Democrats have a problem: They don’t have the consensus to pass such a large bill along straight party lines as liberals like Sense. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Cinema of Arizona insist instead to pursue bipartisan talks.

“Right now we don’t have the votes to do that,” said Sen. Jean Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat who is also involved in bipartisan talks, asking whether she would support a Democrat-only approach through the reconciliation process. .

“I say, let’s give it a little more time,” said Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with the Democrats. “The legislative process was designed to be slow and cumbersome.”

With Biden traveling through Europe During a crucial moment in his presidency, the White House has said that the president can amend phone calls while he is abroad. Most of the input from the White House is expected to come from aides who were left behind, including White House Chief of Staff Ron Klein and Legislative Affairs Director Louisa Terrell.

On the Republican side, members of the bipartisan group told reporters with GOP members on Wednesday that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that McConnell indicated he was “open” to running the talks.

“Mitch McConnell said yesterday that he was open to it. It’s a good next step,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican of Louisiana who is part of a group trying to hammer out a bipartisan deal.

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However, other Republican leaders have expressed skepticism that reaching any agreement may require as many as 10 Republicans to pull off a filibuster effort.

Senate GOP Whip John Thune of South Dakota and Texas Sen. John Cornyn said the proposed spending amount would follow closely to what Republican negotiators have already offered Biden — about $300 billion in new money and $1 trillion in total spending. – Won wide support in the Republican convention. However, that number had already been rejected by the White House.

“I think he thinks he’s going to get a better deal,” Cornyn said of Biden’s ongoing talks with a new set of Republicans. “But there’s nothing that says this group agrees with other Republicans who are going to support. To me that’s the fault of this kind of approach.”

Liberals in that negotiation are concerned that 10 Republicans are unlikely to support either deal – even one some of their members have supported.

“No,” said Senate Budget Speaker Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, whether the bipartisan would support the group’s possible settlement.

“In my view, now is the time to stand up for the working families of this country. Black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Sanders said. “If your question is: Do I think there are 10 Republicans who are ready to do that? No, I don’t.”

This story and title have been updated to reflect additional developments from Thursday.

CNN’s Ted Barrett and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.


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