On Tuesday, President Joe Biden
to approve an infrastructure
framework drafted by a bipartisan group of senators, arguing that it would benefit working and middle-class families throughout the country.
“This bipartisan breakthrough
is a great deal
for the American people
. Not just red states
or blue states, but everyone. The jobs
created here would primarily be for blue-collar workers,” Biden said at an event in La Crosse, Wisconsin
The event was Biden's first public appearance to promote the $1.2 trillion agreement, and he is expected to speak at additional events to sell voters
on the economic benefits of the package, which the White House
says would represent a historic investment in the nation's roads, bridges, and waterways.
The public sales pitch comes after a brief controversy involving Biden's remarks last week in which he said he would not sign the bipartisan agreement into law
unless Congress sent him another bill containing key Democratic
priorities such as child care
, elder care, and green energy
investments. The remarks, intended to reassure wary progressives
, infuriated Republicans
who helped negotiate the agreement.
However, prospects for passage of the bipartisan agreement improved after Biden issued a lengthy statement on Saturday clarifying that he would support the $1.2 trillion framework even if Democrats
did not send him another multibillion-dollar bill that they hoped to pass on a party-line vote.
“Do I take him at his word and do I think he’s a man of honor? Absolutely,” Sen. Mitt Romney
(R-Utah), who helped negotiate the bipartisan agreement, said of BIden on CNN
’s “State of the Union
” on Sunday. The Utah senator added that Biden’s clarification “calmed the waters.”
Other Republicans, however, are demanding that Democrats go even further, calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) to echo Biden and reverse her comments from last week, in which she stated that “there ain’t gonna be no bipartisan bill unless we have a reconciliation bill.” Pelosi has made no indication that she will follow Biden’s lead on this.
Democrats are pursuing a “two-track” strategy, hoping to pass the bipartisan framework and then follow it up with a more robust package, including expanded child tax credits, that Biden campaigned on during the 2020 presidential election
“I’m going to make the case that critical investments, including those in my Families Plan, are still required, perhaps the most important of which is the child tax credit,” Biden said in Wisconsin on Tuesday.
The challenge for Democrats is that there is a wide range of views within the party on what a second infrastructure package should look like. Progressives, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-VT), want Congress to pass a broad measure totaling up to $6 trillion that includes many Democratic priorities, such as elder care, housing
, and expanded health care
Meanwhile, moderate senators have expressed concern about another costly bill and its impact
on the national debt, despite their support for the “two-track” approach. Moderate senators wield disproportionate influence in the Senate
because Democrats control only 50 seats, and total party unity will be required to pass a second infrastructure bill through a special budget
process known as reconciliation.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sen. Joe Manchin
(D-W.Va.) reiterated his support for reconciliation but cautioned that he would be unlikely to vote for a large $6 trillion bill on MSNBC
“If no Republicans [support a second infrastructure package], which I doubt, we’ll have to work it through reconciliation; I just haven’t agreed on the amount,” Manchin said.