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Biden adviser on president signing bill: ‘I don’t think it’s a yes-or-no question’

Bonnie Cash

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond on Sunday refused to answer if President Biden will sign the bipartisan infrastructure package if it is sent to his desk without a larger bill that is passed through reconciliation, arguing that it is not “a yes-or-no question.”

Richmond, when asked by host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” if he would support a solo bipartisan infrastructure bill that is not accompanied by a larger package that is passed through reconciliation, which would require only the support of Democrats, responded, “I don’t think it’s a yes-or-no question.”

“We passed the Rescue Plan. We’re going to pass the Jobs Plan, and we’re going to pass the American Families Plan,” Richmond said before adding that he expects “to have both bills in front of us to sign.”

“And I expect that President Biden will sign the infrastructure bill, he will sign the Families Plan,” Richmond added.

When pressed by Tapper on if Biden will not commit to signing the infrastructure bill if it is not passed with a reconciliation package, Richmond deferred to the president’s statement from Saturday walking back his previous remarks, which created a firestorm and endangered the bipartisan deal.

Biden on Thursday said he would not sign the bipartisan deal if the larger Democratic proposal did not reach his desk. On Saturday, he said he would sign the bipartisan deal and that he had not intended to imply he would not if it reached his desk and the Democratic bill did not.

“No, I think that the important point here is to focus on the statement yesterday where the president’s words speak for themselves,” Richmond said.

“I don’t — I speak for the president, but I don’t put words in his mouth. And where he has a clear statement, I let that do the speaking, but the important thing is to focus on how historic this infrastructure bill is,” he added.

Some GOP senators are accepting Biden’s walk-back and say they are still on board with supporting the package.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Sunday said that while he was “blindsided” by Biden’s comments last week, 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.”

“I’m glad they’ve now been delinked 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. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) echoed Portman’s sentiment on Sunday, claiming that 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 before adding that the Republican leader will support the bipartisan package “if it continues to come together as it is.”

“That’s not what we were told, and so of course that caused a little bit of a, hmm, 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.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Sunday said he trusted Biden and accepted the president’s clarification, before doubling down on the Republican Party’s opposition to a second, larger infrastructure package.

“I do trust the president, and he made very clear in the much larger statement that came out over the weekend, 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 Tapper.

“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,” he added.

Updated at 4:31 p.m.

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