Biden speaks with Sinema on path forward for infrastructure bill
President Biden on Friday spoke with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to reiterate his support for a two-track path for a bipartisan infrastructure deal she helped broker alongside a reconciliation bill with Democratic priorities, even as his support for that strategy has led to some criticism on Capitol Hill.
Biden “reiterated his strong support for the compromise agreement, and they discussed his plan to try to build support for the Agreement among both Democrats and Republicans,” according to a White House readout. But the president made clear he would seek to move the bipartisan deal forward simultaneously with a budget resolution that is likely to only garner Democratic support.
“These are two critical priorities to the President that he wants to see advance through the legislative process as quickly as possible, pass as quickly as possible, and be presented to him for signing as quickly as possible,” the White House said. “The President looks forward to signing both these bills.”
Biden’s outreach to Sinema reflects his efforts to cement the support of the key moderate Democrat, who was a leading senator in forming a bipartisan agreement on an infrastructure deal that would invest $1.2 trillion over eight years.
The president joined Sinema and nine other bipartisan senators outside the West Wing on Thursday to announce the agreement. But he made clear in remarks a short time later that he would not sign the bipartisan bill unless Congress also passed a budget reconciliation bill containing administration priorities on health care, education, climate and family care.
Biden’s call for a two-track approach was an effort to assuage concerns among progressive Democrats that the bipartisan package was not sufficient. But the move has already turned off some Republicans and underscores the fragile path forward for a deal.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday accused Biden of “caving” to the progressive wing of the party.
“Less than two hours after publicly commending our colleagues and actually endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the president took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it. It was a tale of two press conferences,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.