White House dodges question on size of Democratic infrastructure bill

The White House dodged a question Monday on the size of an infrastructure proposal that Democrats are aiming to pass through the budget reconciliation process, allowing them to sidestep a GOP filibuster.

“I will say that, as it relates to the budget reconciliation process, that of course is for members of the Senate to work through what they can all collectively support together to get enough votes,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday’s press briefing in response to a reporter’s question on whether the administration had decided on a dollar amount for the bill.

Psaki said President Biden will advocate for certain provisions to be included in the eventual legislation but did not specify a preferred price tag.

“The president will continue to advocate for components of his Build Back Better agenda, the American Families Plan, components he’s laid out in his budget and pieces of his American Jobs Plan that were not included in the bipartisan package,” Psaki said, adding that “those will be his priorities” as he talks with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other lawmakers.

Sanders, who has said Democrats are considering a measure that could cost $6 trillion, has said he will not support the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill without a larger measure that Democrats could pass without any Republican votes. Democratic leadership is pursuing a two-track system to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the separate bill through budget reconciliation.

“Back in April, when the president said we would move forward on two tracks  that we would seek a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure and that we would work with Democrats on a budget reconciliation process that included key components of the American Families Plan  there was some skepticism about the possibility of that moving forward and that’s a diplomatic definition of how the broad reaction was,” Psaki said.

She said the same kind of reaction is happening now with the reconciliation package.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to take up both the bipartisan bill and a budget resolution, which would pave the way for the larger Democratic measure, before the Senate starts its August recess.

Psaki said Biden will be engaged with lawmakers during the negotiations process and invite members of Congress to the White House for discussions as needed.

When asked how confident the White House was on the bipartisan infrastructure deal passing the Senate, Psaki said, “We’re ready for it.”

The bipartisan bill will require support from at least 60 senators in the 50-50 Senate. Progressives have raised concerns about voting for the legislation unless there’s a guarantee of passing a larger reconciliation bill.

Tags american jobs plan Bernie Sanders bipartisan budget reconciliation Charles Schumer Infrastructure Jen Psaki Joe Biden
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