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Klain opens door to reconciliation for infrastructure but hopes for bipartisanship

Klain opens door to reconciliation for infrastructure but hopes for bipartisanship
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White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainForgiving K in school loans would free 36 million student borrowers from debt: data Overnight Defense: Biden makes his Afghanistan decision Armed Services chairman knocks White House for 'dragging their feet' on budget request MORE opened the door Thursday to using the budget reconciliation process to pass President BidenJoe BidenHouse panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations Democrats to offer bill to expand Supreme Court Former Israeli prime minister advises Iran to 'cool down' amid nuclear threats MORE’s infrastructure plan without GOP votes but said he’s still hoping to win over some Republicans.

In an interview with Politico, Klain hedged on a question about the reconciliation gambit, which would allow Democrats to pass the more than $2 trillion package without going through the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster, though he said the White House has not given up on working in a bipartisan fashion. 

“What we want to do is get this passed and I think that starts with a conversation with a broad array of members in both parties to see where the support is, how this looks as we move it through the process. That’s our first goal, and I’m not going to get into legislative tactics today. We just launched this plan yesterday,” he said. 

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“We’re going to start to bring members down here physically when Congress gets back after this Easter break and talk to Congress, talk to members of the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, about how they want to move forward. We want to move forward if it’s at all possible on a bipartisan basis. And I think there is some hope of that.”

Still, Klain touted the need for Biden’s infrastructure plan to become law and suggested that GOP opposition would not mark the bill’s death knell.

“Look, I think these are national needs and, you know, as the president has said, people have to decide if they’re going to deliver or divide. And we intend to deliver,” he said.

“In the end — let me be clear — the president was elected to do a job and part of that job is to get this country ready to win the future,” Klain added. “That’s what he’s going to do.”

The remarks come amid ongoing debate on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue over how to pass Biden’s infrastructure plan, which he formally rolled out Wednesday.

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The proposal includes a $620 billion investment to repair 20,000 miles of roads and highways and fix 10,000 bridges. Money would also be allocated to transition to electric vehicles by building a network of 500,000 electric charging stations.

The White House says the plan will cost roughly $2 trillion over an eight-year period and will be paid for in 15 years by raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent.

Republicans have come out swinging early against the package, saying its price tag is too high and it includes matters unrelated to infrastructure.

“The total soars to $3 trillion with its inclusion of these broad policy priorities that are a far cry away from what we’ve ever defined as infrastructure,” Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Senate confirms Biden's pick to lead White House environmental council Biden outreach on infrastructure met with Republican skepticism MORE (R-Ohio) said in a statement Thursday, referencing spending on issues including health care and workforce development.

“President Biden proposes steep new taxes on businesses which will hurt working families and last more than a decade. This is the wrong approach, and will only undermine our economy at a time when we are beginning to recover,” Portman added.

Democrats would be able to pass the package in the 50-50 Senate through the budget reconciliation process if they remain united, though cracks have already emerged within the party over the proposal’s scope. 

While key centrists have expressed early concerns over how the administration will pay for the whole package, progressives have said the bill should be bigger.

“This is not nearly enough. The important context here is that it’s $2.25T spread out over 10 years. For context, the COVID package was $1.9T for this year *alone,* with some provisions lasting 2 years. Needs to be way bigger,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMarjorie Taylor Greene wants to debate Green New Deal with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez NY Democratic chair blasts primary challenge against Maloney What will we get for a multitrillion-dollar energy policy? MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted this week.