Talks Between Biden, GOP on Infrastructure Could Go Past Memorial Day Deadline

The Biden administration has abandoned its deadline of Memorial Day weekend to finish negotiations on an infrastructure package in the hopes of reaching a bipartisan deal with Republicans.

Citing three sources in the White House, Politico reported on Thursday that Biden is willing to allow another week or two of negotiations and counterproposals from Republicans on the American Jobs Plan. The original plan provided $2 trillion in funding for the country’s infrastructure needs, but Biden has already dropped that price tag by around $600 billion in an effort to court Republican support — to no avail.

If the two sides cannot reach a deal, the White House will move forward without GOP support, those sources indicated, and focus on passing the bill with a little-known Senate reconciliation rule that allows lawmakers to bypass the filibuster.

Republicans presented a new proposal on Thursday, which offered less than $1 trillion in spending and funds infrastructure projects by redirecting money intended for COVID-19 relief. Biden and the Democrats have insisted on funding the American Jobs Plan by raising taxes on corporations.

But many Democrats are getting impatient, recalling how negotiations over the Affordable Care Act led to several months of delay and weaker legislation but no Republican support.

A growing number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), have signaled that they are willing to pass an infrastructure package on their own if necessary.

“We always hope that our Republican friends will work with us on things…. We hope to move forward with Republicans, but we’re not going to let them, saying no, stand in our way,” Schumer said earlier this week.

Biden may not have to worry too much about political fallout for not working with Republicans. A Data for Progress poll conducted from May 14-17 found that 58 percent of Americans want the American Jobs Plan (and the American Families Plan) to pass through the reconciliation process, which would allow the Democrats to pass both bills without Republican support and suffer very little politically for doing so.

The same poll found that most Americans rejected the Republicans proposal for funding infrastructure projects. Only 22 percent in the Data for Progress survey said they wanted projects funded by using unspent pandemic relief, while 63 percent agreed the best way to fund infrastructure was through raising taxes and cutting tax loopholes for corporations.

The poll also indicated that Republicans should be more cooperative when it comes to negotiations, with 55 percent of respondents saying Republicans should “find ways to work” with the president, versus just 40 percent that said they wanted GOP lawmakers to “keep Biden in check.”

“The American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan are overwhelmingly popular and voters support passing both, together through reconciliation,” Ethan Winter, a senior analyst at Data for Progress, told Truthout. “A majority of voters also want Republicans to work with Biden on passing these bills, rather than simply trying to impede the Democratic Party’s legislative agenda.”

Winter added that, “From a public opinion standpoint, there’s little reason for Democrats to jettison some of the most popular provisions of the American Jobs Plan,” like extending high-speed internet to all Americans.