A bipartisan infrastructure deal teeters only a day after it was introduced.


A bipartisan infrastructure deal appeared jeopardized on Friday when Republicans commented on President Biden’s comment that he would not sign the $ 579 billion deal in new infrastructure spending without coming up with a second, far more ambitious package.

Mr Biden and leading Democrats have long insisted that they will accept a tighter public works bill only with a pledge to move forward with another bill using the accelerated budget reconciliation process that includes home health care and comprehensive climate regulations, paid vacation and others liberal priorities paid for through tax hikes for wealthy businesses and individuals.

As Mr. Biden celebrated the deal with 10 centrist senators on Thursday for the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure package, Mr. Biden told reporters, “If that’s the only thing I can think of, I won’t sign it.”

“It’s in tandem,” he added.

And while Republicans have recognized the inevitability of the Democrats themselves passing additional laws, the implication that Mr Biden would not sign the bipartisan agreement until Congress passed a law of reconciliation angered Republicans.

“I don’t think this will pass and I think they ruined every opportunity,” California minority representative Kevin McCarthy said at his weekly press conference. “I think it was insincere in every form.”

The senators who helped negotiate the compromise convened a private phone call Friday afternoon to express their frustration at Mr Biden’s comments and concern that they had turned what was believed to be the bona fide negotiations upside down . The call, first reported by the Washington Post, was described by two people familiar with it on condition of anonymity.

“No blackmail deal!” South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Twitter after approving an initial framework this month. “It was never suggested to me during these negotiations that President Biden hold the bipartisan infrastructure proposal hostage unless a liberal reconciliation package was also passed.”

Mr Biden spoke to Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat and a leader in the negotiations on Friday to reiterate his support for both the bipartisan plan and a second package. He told Ms. Sinema the bills are priorities, “he wants the legislative process to move forward as quickly as possible, to be passed as soon as possible and to be put before him for signature as soon as possible,” read an ad provided by White House.

“People are very committed to what we’ve done,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire and one of the negotiators. “I didn’t understand that the president was in that position, so I’ll keep working and try to build support for the infrastructure package.”

Legislative text for the bipartisan agreement has yet to be written as Democrats are also working on the second, potentially multi-trillion dollar package that is a priority for liberal lawmakers. But this second package, which is expected to be adopted as part of the reconciliation process, may not be ready for voting until the autumn, given the tough budgetary hurdles it has to overcome.

“There’s no question that there’s still work to be done and he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and work like hell,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, at a briefing Friday.

Legislature says the bipartisan deal, which would provide $ 579 billion in new federal funding for road, bridge, broadband and other public works projects, would be the largest single infrastructure investment in modern American history.

Ms. Psaki said it was up to Republicans to decide whether to vote against the law “simply because they didn’t like the mechanics of the process.”

“That’s a pretty absurd argument for them,” she added. “Good luck on the political front with this argument.”