Despite his repeated calls for unity during the 2020 campaign and after, President Joe Biden and his Democrat colleagues are showing little interest in achieving compromise with Republicans as their massive spending push moves on to yet another multi-trillion-dollar package, and thanks to a procedural ruling received early this week, they may not even need to.
As CBS News reports, the Senate parliamentarian ruled on Monday that reconciliation instructions can indeed be included in a revised budget resolution, a scenario which would give Democrats the freedom to approve Biden’s massive infrastructure bill via simple majority vote, potentially cutting Republicans out of the process entirely.
Given the 50-50 makeup of the Senate and anticipated Republican resistance to the controversial plan, passing the legislation was always going to be an uphill climb for Democrats in the absence of such a ruling, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hailed as “an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed,” as the Washington Examiner noted.
Schumer stated that Democrats have not yet decided if they will move forward in what many view as an especially divisive manner that would further undermine the president’s supposed desire for consensus and unity, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated that Biden remains “open” to Republican input on the bill’s provisions and would prefer if things proceeded in a bipartisan fashion.
However, as CNBC noted, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already signaled his own opposition to the package — an indicator of broader sentiment within his party — calling it “a Trojan horse,” adding:
It’s called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan horse it’s going to be more borrowed money, and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.
As the Examiner indicated, Republicans and Democrats remain in strong disagreement about what the term “infrastructure” ought to encompass, with the GOP arguing that it should include only traditional projects such as improvements to bridges, roads, ports, and the like, and Democrats taking a more exhaustive stance in suggesting that it covers liberal wish list items such as electric vehicles and charging station subsidies.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee claimed that based on his assessment of the proposed legislation, “only 25% of this package is dedicated to our roads, bridges, transit, rail, airports, port, and other traditional transportation infrastructure,” adding that it is actually designed to achieve “a wide array of initiatives that would be better considered through thoughtfully crafted, more targeted measures,” according to Roll Call.
Even with the procedural helping hand, the Democrats still face some significant hurdles along the path to passage of Biden’s plan. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has already declared that he does not support the bill in its current form, particularly due to the corporate tax increase it contains, and that he knows of at least six or seven others in his party who also “feel very strongly about this,” according to The Hill.
Though the Senate parliamentarian certainly eased the way for Democrats to ram through yet another exorbitantly costly spending bill without any support from Republicans, it remains to be seen whether Biden, Schumer, and other party leaders will succeed in strong-arming internal holdouts such as Manchin in order to fulfill this far-reaching wish list of liberal policy objectives.