Senate

Schumer warns Democrats willing to go it alone on infrastructure

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that Democrats will pass a “bold” infrastructure plan — with or without Republicans.

Speaking at a press conference, Schumer said no decision had been made yet on how or when Democrats would next set up reconciliation — which allows them to bypass the filibuster — but that it was a legislative option for passing President Biden’s sweeping infrastructure plan.

“Of course reconciliation is an option. We hope to do as much as we can in a bipartisan way. … But the No. 1 goal is a big bold plan along the lines of what President Biden has proposed,” Schumer said.

Asked if he was saying Democrats were willing to move without Republicans if they can’t pick up enough GOP support, Schumer responded: “We have no choice but to move forward.”

Schumer’s comments come as Democrats have yet to formally land on a strategy for passing Biden’s massive infrastructure package, but most have said it will likely have to go through reconciliation.

That poses a challenge for Biden and Schumer because it requires total unity from the 50-member Senate Democratic Caucus.

A group of centrist-minded senators have said they want at least part of the infrastructure bill to be bipartisan. That approach would break Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan into pieces, in hopes of getting some GOP support through the 60-vote process and passing the rest under reconciliation.

But top members of leadership and some committee chairs have said they want to pass it all as one package.

Biden is set to unveil the second part of his infrastructure plan, focused on families and child care, during his joint address to Congress on Wednesday night.

Republicans have mocked Democrats for characterizing the new proposal as infrastructure, but Schumer, speaking separately from the Senate floor, defended the broad sweep.

The plan “makes exactly the types of investment our country should have been making for a very long time.”

“This is not either/or human infrastructure or brick-and-mortar infrastructure. We don’t want to choose one versus the other. … We need both,” Schumer said.

Schumer added that he believed some of the issues, like child care, would be popular with voters and if Republican senators unified against Biden’s plan “that’s no good for America.”

“That’s no good for bipartisanship and it’s not even good for the Republicans Party’s future,” he added.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, predicted that Democrats would use reconciliation to bypass the filibuster on either pieces of the infrastructure plan or Biden’s families plan. 

“I think it’s a given,” he said. 

Tags Charles Schumer Joe Biden John Thune

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