Today was potentially a great day for the American People.
The Biden/Harris Administration has come to an agreement with a bipartisan group of Senators (including Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema) on the framework for a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan.
The other nine Senators that joined President Biden and Senator Sinema outside the White House were Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Jeanne Shaheen, Bill Cassidy, Joe Machin, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, John Tester, and Mark Warner.
In his comments with the Senators, President Biden said that Congress will move on a “dual-track,” to pass this bipartisan measure with at least 60 votes and a probable Democrats only measure that incorporates many of the Biden/Harris American Jobs and Families remaining economic priorities, through reconciliation that will need only 51 votes.
The President praised the bipartisan efforts of the ten Senators that accompanied them, saying:
“A lot of us go back a long way…We give each other our word and that’s the end…Where I come from, that’s good enough for me.”
The deal agreed to by the bipartisan group of Senators and the White House includes the following funding provisions:
“Total $579 billion in new spending.
Roads, bridges, major projects $109
Public transit $49
Passenger and Freight Rail $66
EV infrastructure $7.5
Electric buses / transit $7.5
Reconnecting communities $1
Ports & Waterways $16
Infrastructure Financing $20
Other Infrastructure $266
Water infrastructure $55
Broadband infrastructure $65
Environmental remediation $21
Power infrastructure incl. grid authority $73
Western Water Storage $5
New spending + baseline (over 5 years) = $973B
New spending + baseline (over 8 years) = $1,209B”
This deal includes funds for:
- Removing lead water pipes from communities that still have them and replacing them with safe ones.
- Expanding rural broadband.
- Modernizing the electric grid.
- Rebuilding and repairing roads, bridges, rail, waterways, and airports.
- Electric Vehicle infrastructure including charging stations.
- The creation of millions of good-paying jobs.
This is a good deal that should pass both houses of Congress.
Is it everything Democrats want?
No, but as the President later said in a more formal announcement of the infrastructure deal inside the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris and reporters:
“…Let me be clear: Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal, and that’s what it means to compromise. And it reflects something important: It reflects consensus. The heart of democracy requires consensus. And it’s time a true — this time a true bipartisan effort, breaking the ice that too often has kept us frozen in place and prevented us from solving the real problems facing the American people.”
In a nod to solidify Progressive support in Congress, Mr. Biden said that he would not sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless the reconciliation bill that contains many of his Administration’s other priorities also passes both the House and Senate.
Responding to a series of White House reporters questions on this position, the President said:
“Q Mr. President, you said you want both of these measures to come to you “in tandem.” Did you receive any assurances that that would happen? And how do you anticipate — what will you do if —
THE PRESIDENT: I control that.
Q — they don’t get to you in time?
THE PRESIDENT: If they don’t come, I’m not signing. Real simple.
So, but I expect — I expect that in the — the coming months this summer, before the count — the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, as well — the infrastructure bill — as well as voted on the budget record [sic] — resolution.
And that’s when they’ll — but if only one comes to me, I’m not — and if this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem.
Q Mr. President, do you support, then, Speaker Pelosi’s stated plan to hold the bipartisan deal in the House until the Senate also passes reconciliation? Do you support that sequencing on her part?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q But, Mr. President, your own party is not on the same page about the reconciliation package. So, by moving forward with this two-track system, are you putting the bipartisan bill in jeopardy?
THE PRESIDENT: Sure, the bipartisan bill was — look, the bipartisan bill, from the very beginning, was understood there was going to have to be the second part of it. I’m not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest I — that I proposed. I proposed a significant piece of legislation in three parts. And all — all three parts are equally important.
And, by the way, my party — you keep — everybody tell — tells me my party is — my party is divided. Well, my party is divided. My party is divided, but my party is also rational. If they can’t get every single thing they want, but all that they have in the bill is that — before them is good, are they going to vote “no”? I don’t think so.”
In response to the announcement of the dual-track and the bipartisan infrastructure plan, Charlie Fisher, the Executive Director of the Arizona Democratic Party. stated:
“After years of Donald Trump repeatedly promising and failing to deliver an infrastructure package, President Joe Biden has—with the help of Arizona’s own Senator Kyrsten Sinema—delivered on his promise to invest crucial funding to improve public transit, repair our crumbling roads and bridges, and address the climate crisis while investing in a new, green economy.”
“Democrats are delivering on the promises they made to the American people—and they’re only getting started.”
So today was potentially a great day for the American People.
There is a path forward for both a bipartisan infrastructure plan (remember nothing like this happened in the Trump/Pence Administration) and a budget reconciliation passage that will incorporate many Biden-Harris and Congressional Democratic priorities that will create millions of good-paying jobs, lift up the poor, expand the middle class, and move the country forward.
The key will be maintaining support for all the key House and Senate members for the next two to three months.
If today’s developments are prologue, there should be a lot for the American People to celebrate the end of this summer.