Schumer, Pelosi meeting with White House on infrastructure
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will meet with White House officials on Wednesday to talk about the path forward on infrastructure.
Schumer told Senate Democrats during their closed-door caucus lunch on Tuesday that he and Pelosi will meet with the officials to discuss both a budget resolution that could pave the way for moving a bill through the Senate with just Democratic votes and bipartisan talks, a Senate Democratic source told The Hill.
The meeting comes as Democratic leadership is trying to balance the bipartisan talks with a growing push from many within the caucus to cut the cord and move forward on their own with a larger package that could be passed under budgetary rules and avoid a filibuster.
The talks are linked because some centrist Democrats prefer a bipartisan package, and it’s not clear all of those centrists would back a larger budget package. Democrats can’t afford a single defection in the Senate from their party if such a package is to get to President Biden’s desk without GOP support.
The White House is ramping up its outreach as the bipartisan talks reach a make-or-break moment.
White House officials are meeting with the bipartisan group on Tuesday at the Capitol, and Biden spoke with centrist Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday.
The bipartisan group unveiled a framework that would include spending roughly $1.2 trillion over eight years.
But they are still working to lock down how to pay for it amid pushback from Democrats over indexing the gas tax to inflation and repurposing some of the previously allocated coronavirus relief funds. Democrats have floated the idea of using stepped-up IRS enforcement as a way to cover the bill’s cost.
And they broke their second round of talks on Tuesday without an agreement. The Senate will leave town for two weeks on Thursday.
In addition to the bipartisan talks, a growing number of Senate Democrats are ready to try to go it alone on a sweeping infrastructure proposal under reconciliation, a budget process that allows them to bypass the 60-vote filibuster.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is eyeing crafting a budget resolution, the first step in the go-it-alone approach, that would greenlight up to $6 trillion for the infrastructure package. It’s likely some Democratic senators will be uncomfortable with such a price tag.
Schumer reiterated on Tuesday that he wants to write both the bipartisan bill and the budget resolution that starts the process for a second, Democratic-only bill in July.
“They are going to move together concurrently. We hope to have votes on both of them in July,” Schumer said.