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GOP senators accept Biden walk-back on infrastructure

A trio of Republican senators on Sunday said they accepted President Biden’s clarified remarks that walked-back his previous statement on an infrastructure proposal when he said he would support signing a bipartisan bill if a larger reconciliation package was also passed.

Republican senators signaled that they would accept Biden’s revised comments from the previous day, in which the president said the “impression” he would veto a bipartisan bill was “certainly not my intent.” 

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he was “blindsided” by Biden’s remarks, but added that he was “very glad to see the president clarify his remarks because it was inconsistent with everything that we had been told all along the way. We were all blindsided by the comments the previous day.”

“I’m glad they’ve now been de-linked and it’s very clear that we can move forward with a bipartisan bill that’s broadly popular,” Portman told host Jonathan Karl on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he trusted Biden before signaling that he accepted the president’s clarification.

“I do trust the president and, he made very clear in the much larger statement that came out over the weekend, the carefully crafted and thought through piece by piece, as that if the infrastructure bill reaches his desk, and it comes alone, he will sign it,” Romney told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Romney then doubled down on the Republican opposition to a second, larger infrastructure package, emphasizing that he will not support such a proposal.

“I recognize that he and his Democratic colleagues want more than that, they want other legislation as well. And we Republicans are saying absolutely no, we will not support a bill which is to be passed with a massive tax increase, and at the same time trillions of dollars in new spending. That is not something we will support,” Romney said.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) sounded a similar note, saying Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “didn’t like the president throwing the wrench in there” when Biden proposed a dual track system to get two bills passed.

“That’s not what we were told, and so of course that caused a little bit of a hm, let’s think about this. But I think Mitch McConnell wants infrastructure as much as anyone else. He wants the jobs that this will create. I think Leader McConnell will be for it, if it continues to come together as it is,” Cassidy told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Biden on Thursday said he would not sign a bipartisan infrastructure package if Congress did not also pass a reconciliation bill.

“I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution. But if only one comes to me, this is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem,” Biden told reporters at the White House alongside a bipartisan group of Senators.

His remarks immediately sparked backlash from Republicans, who said they were firmly against a reconciliation bill, which would only need Democratic votes to pass the chamber.

GOP lawmakers have said they are opposed to additional infrastructure spending, in addition to the tax increases a subsequent bill would include.

Biden walked-back his comments on Saturday, writing in a statement that the “impression” that he would veto the bipartisan bill was “certainly not my intent.”

“So to be clear: our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan and other proposals in tandem. We will let the American people—and the Congress—decide,” he added.

Biden on Thursday announced that the bipartisan group of senate negotiators struck a deal with the White House on infrastructure, which includes $579 billion in new spending over five years or a total of $973 billion over five years and just over $1.2 trillion over eight years.

Tags Bill Cassidy Chuck Todd Jake Tapper Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Rob Portman

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