Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred'

Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred'
© Greg Nash

Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Chasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians MORE on Wednesday said a bipartisan deal on infrastructure is still “strongly preferred” by the Biden administration, a day after the president ended talks with one key Republican in favor of talks with a bipartisan group of senators.

“It's up to the Republicans what they're prepared to support. But what we know is that there are conversations going on right now among members from both parties who want to get there. More than any other subject in domestic policy, I think there is a lot of overlap, if not consensus, about the need to do something,” Buttigieg said on NPR Wednesday.

“We're going to pursue multiple paths because it has to happen, but a bipartisan outcome is strongly preferred,” he added.

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When pressed on if President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE would go it alone if he’s not able to get Republicans to agree to a plan, Buttigieg said the administration would “prefer to do it together, but we have to get it done.”

The comments come after talks between Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoBiden to return to pre-Obama water protections in first step for clean water regulations The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (R-W.Va.) on a bipartisan deal collapsed, fueling calls from some Democrats to try to pass a bill through budget reconciliation, which would bypass the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster.

The president is moving forward on discussions with a bipartisan group of senators that is preparing another infrastructure proposal of roughly $880 billion. 

Buttigieg cited a difference in new spending as to why talks with Capito crumbled. The White House is looking for about $1 trillion in new federal dollars for the plan, while Capitol had proposed roughly $150 billion in new spending supplemented by unspent funds from this year’s coronavirus relief package.

“It simply didn't rise to the level that's going to be needed in order to meet the country's objectives right now,” Buttigieg said. “You look at the need to deal with climate change and what they put forward simply isn't going to get there. The president was willing to move about a trillion dollars in the course of these negotiations. The group, led by Sen. Capito, couldn’t move more than about $150 billion. And so in the end, it just didn't add up.”

The collapse of the talks marked a setback in efforts to produce a bipartisan deal, with the White House Tuesday saying the president retained several ways to get legislation passed, including via budget reconciliation.

“The President is committed to moving his economic legislation through Congress this summer, and is pursuing multiple paths to get this done,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Hunter Biden blasts those criticizing price of his art: 'F--- 'em' MORE said in a statement.