Pelosi says new Senate infrastructure plan could be a hard sell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US Democrats will not give in on President Joe Biden's far-reaching infrastructure goals, House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday, signaling turmoil for a scaled-down bipartisan proposal presented in the Senate.
Biden has his sights set on a major infrastructure bill that would reshape the country's roads and bridges as well as boost spending on services such as health care and childcare - though Republicans reject the idea that these latter priorities even bear the label "infrastructure". "
A bipartisan group of ten moderate Senate members reached an agreement on an infrastructure on Thursday: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/senate-republican-leader-mcconnell-new-infrastructure-plan-collins-2021-06 -10 plan that a known source would cost $ 974 billion over five years and include $ 579 billion in new expenses. That was well below Biden's current $ 1.7 trillion proposal, and it was unclear whether he would find enough support to pass the 50-50 Senate.
"If this (a bipartisan plan) can be agreed, I don't know how to sell it unless we know more is to come," Pelosi, a Democrat, told CNN's State of the Union. . Biden, she said, “has no intention of giving up the rest of his vision”.
Pelosi seemed to be hinting at a scenario where Congress passes a bipartisan infrastructure bill, and then the Democrats enforce a second spending measure through a process called reconciliation that bypasses Senate rules that require 60 votes to move most of the laws on the 100 seat chamber.
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican member of the group that unveiled the new proposal Thursday, said the plan was sticking to spending on physical infrastructure like roads and bridges.
She said that she was personally committed to home nursing, but this could be viewed separately.
"We can look at these issues, but they are not infrastructure. And they should be looked at separately, and I believe they will be," Collins told Face the Nation to CBS.
Many Republicans question government funding for elderly and childcare, especially at the level Biden would like. He initially proposed $ 400 billion for elderly and disabled care and another $ 200 billion for childcare.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said that while the Democrats are aiming for a bipartisan infrastructure deal, they are also aiming for reconciliation.
However, this would require Democrats - with thin majorities - to be united. That could pose another challenge, as party members like Senator Joe Manchin say he doesn't want to abuse the process.
A leading progressive Democrat in the House of Representatives said she preferred the Democrats to pass their priorities without a Republican vote, rather than settling for "much less" in a bipartisan infrastructure bill. “It's worth going alone when we can do more for the working people in this country,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez representative told CNN.
Collins told CBS that the bipartisan infrastructure plan would be paid in part with unspent COVID-19 funds: "There are literally hundreds of billions of dollars in the pipeline."
Collins said the plan also included an "infrastructure finance agency" and a provision for electric vehicles to "pay their fair share" since they don't pay federal gas tax. She said the gas tax would not be increased.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Scott Malone, Daniel Wallis, and Diane Craft)
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