There is hope since the stalling of the Senate-passed $550 billion infrastructure bill on Friday, October 1. President Joe Biden’s ambitious infrastructure plan, worth at least two trillion, would be used to fix 20,000 miles of roads, 10,000 bridges, and will be used to address climate change and racial inequities as well as raising corporate taxes.
The way forward, according to progressive members of Congress, is only possible if two key parts of President Biden’s legislative agenda advance together. This is also based on negotiations with the moderate wing of the Democratic Party which is ongoing. The measure that they want the focus to be on, is the strengthening of the social safety net.
According to Republican Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who appeared on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart”, the intention is to get the bill passed.
“Every single member of my caucus has said we’re going to vote for that bill as long as we get the reconciliation bill that has the rest of the very important priorities that the president laid out,” she added. It’s a very positive indicator of movement considering the same congresswoman, previously stated that at least 50% of her group’s 95 members would have voted against the infrastructure bill if it came up before the safety net bill.
The price tag of the bill continues to be a major dispute among progressives as well. Senator
Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have both objected to a $3.5 trillion measure but blasted House Democrats for their decision not to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan on Friday.
“Arizonans, and all everyday Americans, expect their lawmakers to consider legislation on the merits — rather than obstruct new jobs and critical infrastructure investments for no substantive reason. What Americans have seen instead is an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal,” Sinema said.
Despite the setback on Friday the bill containing both measures is expected to be passed one way or another. Even so, the price tag of the safety net bill remains a major deterrent. President Biden has already lowered the topline price tag to $1.9 trillion following negotiations with Democratic lawmakers at the meeting Friday, October 1. He also told reporters that, “there is no reason why both these bills couldn’t pass independently except that there are not the votes to do it that way.”
He confidently added: “It’s a simple proposition. And so I think it makes sense I support both of them, and I think we can get them both done.” A final decision will have to be made by October 31, as this is the new date stipulated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. To achieve this target date The House is in a committee work period for the next two weeks.
Others, share his positive attitude. Progressive Republican Ro Khanna, D-Calif., told “Fox News Sunday” that he sees no reason why the bill would not be passed.
“What I have said consistently, what most progressives have said, is that we want to do what the president wants. And I think the House moderates thought, ‘Joe Biden is a moderate; he agrees with us.’ Actually, this time he didn’t. He agreed that we want both bills,” he continued.
Another supporter of the bill is Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Budget Committee. He spoke on the matter on NBC’s “Meet the Press”.
“There is a strong feeling on the part of many of us that if you just pass the infrastructure bill — which is a good bill; I voted for it — then we will not get to the bill that working families really want, that finally demands that the wealthiest people of this country start paying their fair share of taxes,” he said.