The White House was reluctant to abandon talks with the Center Democrats and Republicans, which led to a growing number of progressive lawmakers in both houses denouncing the slow pace of negotiations. Last week, a handful of Democratic senators in the White House shot down warning tweets threatening to Refuse support for infrastructure bills without climate protection regulations in which only Democrats are expected to happen. But Sanders did not interfere in the choir.
“He is focused on building momentum for a reconciliation bill that will be the most momentous piece of legislation for working people since the 1930s,” said an advisor to Sanders.
Sanders is not as concerned as other progressives that their priorities are being left out of the overall infrastructure package because the budget process is just beginning, the advisor added. And Sanders believes strong climate regulations – one of his top priorities – will be included in a law of reconciliation.
At the same time, Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budgets Committee, has advised the White House that he believes the bipartisan talks should be concluded, said a source familiar with his interactions with the White House.
The White House is in regular contact with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Sanders over infrastructure priorities, according to a White House official, who described his relationship with Sanders as strong. A Sanders adviser also confirmed that the senator is in close contact with the White House and Schumer.
What the final reconciliation package will look like and which bodies will be responsible for different parts of it remains to be decided. When the bipartisan talks end – with or without a deal in hand – different factions of democratic lawmakers will begin to haggle among themselves over the legislative language of the reconciliation package.
Some Democrats are optimistic that their priorities will not fall by the wayside as Biden repeatedly notes that “inaction” on his entire package – which includes money for elderly care, childcare and K-12 and higher education – is unacceptable. Some progressives are also confident the bipartisan talks will fail because they have repeatedly stalled over disagreements over how much to spend overall and how to pay the narrower bill.
Over the course of those talks, high-profile Democrats – from former Vice President Al Gore to John Podesta – have urged Biden to keep climate rules in any final package that is passed. The White House has announced that it will do so. She recently cited a lack of climate issues three times as a reason for rejecting compromise offers from the GOP. This included when press spokeswoman Jen Psaki discovered why Biden broke off talks with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).
“He informed Senator Capito today that he believed the latest offer from their group did not meet our country’s basic needs to restore our roads and bridges, prepare for our clean energy future and create jobs,” Psaki said on June 8 .
Liberals were subdued when Biden nonetheless returned to bipartisan talks with another group of senators. But instead of just Republicans, Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Were involved in the negotiations this time – a clear signal that the two were not yet convinced of supporting an infrastructure law or a reconciliation package it would contain. While progressives have been pushing for Biden to break off talks and force a vote, White House allies argue that this is myopic.
“Realizing the bipartisan process around infrastructure – whether it comes to a deal that Biden can accept or not – could actually help Manchin, Sinema and others get ‘yes’ to everything that ultimately comes up,” said Ben LaBolt, a former Obama adviser and Democratic strategist near the White House. “Joe Biden was Barack Obama’s Vice President and he will know that if Republicans don’t join a good faith process, he won’t have to wait for Godot. But in order to achieve a good legislative result, it always made strategic sense to involve both parties in the Senate. “
The White House is sticking to its strategy of continuing to seek a deal with the Republicans, but at the same time pushing the bureaucratic needs of the Senate forward if a deal fails.
“The president is fighting to make historic infrastructure investments that generate economic growth, create middle-class jobs, maintain our clean energy leadership and improve our competitiveness in the world,” said Andrew Bates, White House spokesman. “He and his team are conducting bipartisan negotiations in good faith to achieve this goal, while also seeing several avenues for the future.”
But more and more Democratic senators become more and more uncomfortable the longer the infrastructure negotiations with the Republicans go on.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Was one of several Democrats who warned last week about the exclusion of climate policy. A clean energy package passed by the Senate Finance Committee in May consolidated clean energy tax breaks and made them conditional on emissions reductions. It is expected to be a central part of the final package.
Wyden needed “iron assurances that reconciliation would move forward with a resilient climate and clean energy legislation to support putting everything on a separate track in a bipartisan way,” said a Senate Democratic adviser.
The Biden government says a two-pronged approach is exactly what it is pursuing, but the ongoing fear is reaching a boiling point. The longer it takes to pass the infrastructure, Progressives argue, the less time Biden will have to focus on other big agenda items. And voters are waiting for more help to cope with the economic stressors caused by the pandemic, they say.
“There is no question that you work hard, and I do not question your good intentions,” said Rahna Epting, CEO of MoveON, about the White House. “Our concern is that the momentum in Congress is really slowing progress.”
“We’re very worried and have to turn up the heat,” added Epting. “Business as usual is not what people voted for.”