New York Daily News
Joe jaws with GOP
Rips claim $2.3T plan not about infrastructure
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.”