Two more Democrats signal opposition to bipartisan infrastructure deal

Two Democratic senators on Tuesday signaled they will oppose a $974 billion, five-year bipartisan infrastructure proposal unveiled last week, faulting it for not doing enough to halt climate change. 

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told reporters they will only support an infrastructure package that is part of a broader guaranteed agreement to invest massively into clean energy infrastructure and urged their party leaders to immediately begin the budget reconciliation process to allow legislation to pass the Senate with only Democratic votes. 

Asked if he could vote for the bipartisan proposal laid out by a group of 10 senators last week if promised a broader reconciliation bill will come to the Senate floor soon after, Markey said, “I could not.”

“I agree that we have many opportunities to put together a progressive tax package in order to pay for the infrastructure climate bill. All working ingredients are there,” he said at a press conference. “Obviously there were tax cuts that were given back in the Trump early years. There are other areas where we can look at that will provide the revenue stream that will pay for this program.” 

Markey made his comments a day after Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another prominent progressive, said he would not support the bipartisan framework because of what he considers a lack of “progressive” ideas for paying for it.

“I wouldn’t vote for it,” Sanders said Monday evening. “The bottom line is there are needs facing this country. Now is the time to address those needs and it has to be paid for in a progressive way given the fact that we have massive income, wealth inequality in America.” 

Merkley said any bipartisan scaled-down infrastructure package would have to be “welded” to a promise from all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to vote for a larger reconciliation package, with the components of that package laid out in advance, to get his vote.

“If we’re looking at a deal on infrastructure going to the floor that does not have the energy investments in it and [for] which there has not been a deal worked out on reconciliation to have those energy investments, then absolutely not, I will not support the package,” Merkley said. 

Earlier, Merkley said, “When the ship sails on infrastructure, energy investments cannot be left on the docks.”

“If there’s no climate, there’s no deal,” he added.

With as many as three potential no votes in the Democratic caucus, the bipartisan infrastructure proposal would likely need a dozen Republican votes to have a chance of passing — a level of support that has yet to emerge from the GOP conference.

Time is running short for the five Senate Democrats and five Senate Republicans who unveiled the proposal last week.

Senior White House adviser Steve Ricchetti told House Democratic lawmakers Tuesday morning that President Biden will give the bipartisan Senate group another week to 10 days to hammer out the details of their proposal and build more political support before Democrats move on to the reconciliation process.

Markey on Tuesday urged Democratic leaders to move beyond the bipartisan talks and begin setting up budget reconciliation immediately, which would allow a major infrastructure proposal to bypass a Senate Republican filibuster.

“It’s time for us to go our own way. This is as clear as day. No climate, no deal. We need to move forward with 50 Democratic votes now that the Republicans have shown us they are not serious about creating clean energy jobs, jump-starting a clean energy revolution or adding the standards and investments we need to attack this crisis,” Markey said.

“We should wrap up our work on a climate infrastructure bill by the August recess. We should wrap up all of the infrastructure bills — climate and family — by the August break. We shouldn’t leave from here until we get it done,” he said. 

Tags Bernie Sanders Ed Markey Jeff Merkley Joe Biden Steve Ricchetti
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