Biden says he won’t sign bipartisan bill without reconciliation bill
President Biden on Thursday said he won’t sign the bipartisan infrastructure deal if Congress doesn’t also pass a reconciliation bill, committing to a dual track system to get both bills passed.
“I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution. But if only one comes to me, this is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that the House would not vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate passes a larger set of Democratic priorities through budget reconciliation.
Biden said he agreed with the Speaker on the sequencing.
“The bipartisan bill from the very beginning was understood, there’s going to have to be the second part of it. I’m not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest that I proposed. I proposed a significant piece of legislation in three parts and all three parts are equally important,” the president said.
Biden’s remarks are likely to ease concerns among progressive Democrats who are wary of the bipartisan agreement because it does not include other Democratic priorities, like measures to expand access to child care, free education and paid family leave.
Still, Democrats will need to convince moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to go along with a big reconciliation bill, which could allow Democrats to pass the rest of their agenda without GOP support.
Senate progressives had already signaled Thursday that they wouldn’t bless the bipartisan infrastructure deal without a major reconciliation package.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) vowed that there would not be movement on a bipartisan deal unless there is a “firm, absolute agreement” on a reconciliation bill.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also told reporters he wouldn’t vote for the package without knowing what is in a reconciliation bill.
The comments could also create problems with Republicans who oppose other aspects of Biden’s agenda.
Asked later to clarify the president’s remarks, White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wouldn’t say whether Biden was drawing a “red line” but said it is Biden’s intention to pass both an infrastructure bill and his families plan.
“His intention is to make sure that we move forward with both,” Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One. “He is saying that he wants to do both at the same time.”
The infrastructure framework Biden endorsed Thursday includes $579 billion in new spending for a total of $973 billion over five years and a little more than $1.2 trillion over eight years.
Biden acknowledged Thursday that there are divisions in his party on how to move forward.
“My party’s divided but my party’s also rational. If they can’t get every single thing they want but all they have in the bill before them is good, are they going to vote no? I don’t think so.”
The president said there is plenty of work ahead to get both bills to his desk and said he would work with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to make sure both are passed expeditiously. Biden also brushed off criticism from progressives about his willingness to negotiate with Republicans, saying that he would always look to find common ground where possible.
“I’m not going to rest until both get to my desk,” Biden said. “I know there are some of my party who discourage me from seeking an agreement with my Republican colleagues, who said that we should go bigger and go alone. To them I say this: I’ve already shown in my young presidency that I’m prepared to do whatever needs to get done to move the country forward. That’s what I did with the American Rescue Plan.”
“When we can find common ground, though, working across party lines, that is what I will seek to do,” he continued. “The reason why is because the broader support a proposal has in Congress, the stronger its prospects for passage.”
Updated: 3:43 p.m.