Key progressive calls for bipartisan infrastructure talks to end
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says bipartisan infrastructure talks are proving to be a waste of time and urged Democratic leaders to move forward with a reconciliation bill that doesn’t need Republican votes to pass.
“In case it wasn’t clear already, it certainly is now: Republicans are not going to do what needs to be done for working families. It would be foolish to think that Republican senators will suddenly go against [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell’s [R-Ky.] goal of dedicating 100 percent of his energy toward blocking President Biden’s agenda,” she said in a statement.
Jayapal urged the Senate and House to “immediately begin working on budget resolutions to pass the American Jobs and Families Plan through reconciliation so we can deliver on our promises.”
She issued her statement shortly after President Biden suspended his weeks-long negotiation with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) on a bipartisan infrastructure package that would cost less than Biden’s $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan.
Now a group of Democratic and Republican moderates in the Senate are trying to step in and craft their own bipartisan deal, which would be in the ballpark of $880 billion, significantly less than what Biden says he wants.
And on Tuesday the House Problem Solvers Caucus proposed a $762 billion infrastructure spending plan.
But Jayapal says Congress needs to pass a far larger package than what the moderates are discussing.
“President Biden has laid out a big, bold vision, and it is urgent. The next step is clear: let’s do what the people are demanding. Let’s go big, bold and fast,” she said.
In a red flag for progressives, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has told reporters that any bipartisan deal would not raise taxes and instead rely on increasing user fees and other strategies to raise revenue.
Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), a moderate Democrat in the talks, confirmed that this is the position of Romney, but suggested a deal could be found.
“I think there’s ways to do that. Hopefully it won’t be smoke and mirrors. Bottom line, this is probably the toughest part about this from my perspective, is how you get a pay-for,” he said, referring to finding a way to offset the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars in new infrastructure spending without raising taxes.
Many Democrats, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (Ore.), however, say it’s imperative that corporations foot a big part of the cost of infrastructure investment by paying higher taxes.
Jayapal argues the more time spent on bipartisan negotiations means the longer Congress will go without passing a significant infrastructure investment bill.
“Every day that is wasted trying to get Republicans on board is another day that people can’t go back to work because they don’t have child care; another day without investing in millions of good, union jobs, another day that we lose further ground on the climate crisis,” she said. “Further delays jeopardize momentum and allow Republicans to block progress for the American people with no end in sight.”