New York Daily News

Joe jaws with GOP

Rips claim $2.3T plan not about infrastruc­ture

- BY CHRIS SOMMERFELD­T

President Biden accused Republican­s on Monday of opposing his $2.3 trillion infrastruc­ture plan even though “they know we need it,” signaling his frustratio­n as the sprawling proposal faces stiff odds in Congress.

Biden (inset), returning to the White House after a long Easter weekend at Camp David, told reporters that the way in which Republican­s have justified their opposition is “kind of interestin­g.”

“When the Republican­s put forward an infrastruc­ture plan, they thought everything from broadband to other things were worth paying for,” Biden said. “Now, they’re saying that only a small portion of what I’m talking about is infrastruc­ture.”

Since Biden unveiled his $2.3 trillion blueprint last week, Republican­s in both chambers of Congress have taken issue with some of his definition­s for infrastruc­ture.

For instance, GOP brass like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claim the plan’s proposals for replacing lead water pipes nationwide and refurbishi­ng affordable housing units to become more climate-friendly do not constitute “infrastruc­ture.” They claim the plan’s proposal to expand reliable internet isn’t applicable, either, even though they’ve included similar provisions in past infrastruc­ture pushes of their own.

Biden said Congress must take a sweeping approach to what can be considered infrastruc­ture, warning that the U.S. will fall behind on the internatio­nal stage otherwise.

“When you’re in a situation where you can’t turn on a water fountain in school because the water affects your health, that’s infrastruc­ture,” Biden said. “I’m talking about making sure we take asbestos out of schools, that’s infrastruc­ture. I’m talking about building high-speed rail, that’s infrastruc­ture. I’m talking about making sure we are in a situation where we can redo federal buildings that are absolutely leaking energy every single day, that’s infrastruc­ture.”

After talking to reporters, Biden appeared with First Lady Jill Biden and a face mask-clad Easter bunny for a brief speech on the White House Blue Room balcony to mark Sunday’s holiday — but infrastruc­ture appeared to still be on the president’s mind.

“As we celebrate the renewal of this season, we know that longed-for dawn is almost here. We will rebuild our nation. We will reengage and reimagine what we can be,” he said.

However, Biden doesn’t just have to worry about Republican­s opposing his infrastruc­ture plan.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the upper chamber’s only conservati­ve Democrats, said in a podcast interview Monday with WV MetroNews that Biden’s bill “needs to be changed.”

“I think corporate [tax rate] should [be set at] 25%” in the bill, Manchin said. Biden had proposed 21% to 28%.

Biden likely needs the support of at least 10 Republican senators to overcome a procedural filibuster on any infrastruc­ture proposal he presents to Congress, assuming he has the backing of all 50 Democrats. If Manchin or other Democrats jump ship, that math becomes even more complicate­d.

There’s a backdoor way of passing the plan through so-called reconcilia­tion, a budgetary process that would allow Democrats to rubber-stamp the legislatio­n without any GOP support as long as all their own members stay in line.

Biden said he’s open to negotiatin­g with Republican­s, but did not specify on what items he’d be willing to compromise.

“I’m going to push as hard as I can,” he said. “Everybody else in the rest of the world is investing billions and billions of dollars in infrastruc­ture, and we’re going to do it here.”

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