Infrastructure Bill Hangs in The Balance – Again

Democrats have a new deadline to enact President Joe Biden’s agenda. The party will try to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a broad spending package by the end of this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told his caucus Monday. So far, the infrastructure legislation still contains $65 billion in broadband deployment grants. The party hopes to pass the plans before the October 31 expiration of major transportation funding programs, which the infrastructure legislation would renew.

Democrats will have to satisfy progressives who thought the original $3.5 trillion price was too small and at least one centrist who wants to spend no more than $1.5 trillion. Negotiations around the plan kicked into high gear last week as lawmakers tried, and failed, to meet their self-imposed Thursday deadline to get both bills passed in the House. Talks would need to yield an agreement in the coming days for lawmakers to write and pass a measure in time, according to CNBC

The Senate Leader said he wanted to reach a final deal “within a matter of days, not weeks,” reported CNBC. Biden, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appear to have acknowledged neither bill will pass without the other, according to CNBC. They have also stressed that both wings of their party will have to compromise to find common ground between $1.5 and $3.5 trillion.

“We’re in the process of continuing to talk to all the parties. We’ll see what we get,” Biden said Monday when asked if he would accept a $2 trillion spending bill. “I need 50 votes in the Senate. I have 48,” he said.

Biden shrugged off doubters during a visit to Capitol Hill on Friday. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks. We’re going to get it done,” he said, noted Politico.

However, extending an olive branch to one portion of the party risks alienating another, reported CNBC. Moderates like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) aren’t happy that the vote was delayed a second time. “Democratic leaders have made conflicting promises that could not all be kept — and have, at times, pretended that differences of opinion within our party did not exist, even when those disagreements were repeatedly made clear directly and publicly,” said Sinema, who, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), opposes the spending bill in its current form. Sinema called the delay “deeply frustrating,” on Saturday, saying it “erodes” trust as the party tries to negotiate a compromise.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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