It's Infrastructure Week FOR REAL
Hooray, it is Infrastructure Week! Again. Just like every week in the Trump administration, except this time we're actually moving toward a real goal, instead of just throwing a bunch of confetti in the air and congratulating ourselves on all the shit we're never going to accomplish. Same-same, but different!
Last night, the weeks-long infrastructure talks between the White House and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's merry band of timewasters collapsed. Spokesperson Jen Psaki put out a statement yesterday saying that President Joe Biden "offered his gratitude to her for her efforts and good faith conversations, but expressed his disappointment that, while he was willing to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, the Republican group had increased their proposed new investments by only $150 billion."
Capito was marginally gracious, thanking the president for his "willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations" but complained that he "continued to respond with offers that included tax increases as his pay for, instead of several practical options that would have not been harmful to individuals, families, and small businesses." Guess she liked it better when the White House just dummied up some magical math that said cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue. It didn't.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, chair of the Republican conference, was significantly less gracious.
"The president has made it clear that he has no intention of agreeing to a plan that addresses core, physical infrastructure," he lied on his website. "President Biden and his team are trying to satisfy an insatiable far-left agenda that demands massive tax hikes and spending trillions of dollars on things unrelated to physical infrastructure."
In reality, the White House put out a highly detailed breakdown of its proposal, which allocates upwards of a trillion dollars for "core, physical infrastructure." The problem is that Republicans would rather watch our bridges collapse and allow Americans to drink untreated swamp water than to raise corporate taxes from 21 to 28 percent — which would still be 7 percent lower than it was under Obama, when the economy was humming along just fine. Republicans are also pissed about money to upgrade longterm care facilities, transition to clean energy sources, and expand rural broadband.
Hey, who represents those people in rural America still using dial-up to connect to the internet? Oh, right.
Anyway, here's Politico's Ryan Lizza with an excellent breakdown of Biden's plan and where we're at in the negotiations.
The White House set a June 9 deadline for the Capito talks, and now it's moving on to negotiate with a bipartisan group led by Republican Sens. Rob Portman and Bill Cassidy and Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, head of the House Problem Solvers caucus, whose 58 members are split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Whether this round of negotiations will lead to anything that can gain 60 votes to pass a filibuster is unclear — Sen. Mitt Romney is already saying he won't vote for anything paid for by tax hikes, and progressives have already said they're not going to accept a crappy, insufficient bill just so they can call it bipartisanship.
But, as Politico Playbook points out, Biden can hardly count on support from Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema if he blows off the group they're working with.
Meanwhile, Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders is already working on a bill to go through via reconciliation (the one weird trick to beat the filibuster with a simple majority comprising senators who represent a supermajority of Americans). Which means, at the end of the day, we're likely to wind up breaking Biden's larger package for jobs and infrastructure into two bills: one put through the regular process with bipartisan support, and one via reconciliation. And that would be a HUGE win for Biden and the Democrats, so you can bet your bottom dollar Minority Leader Voldemort is going to work like hell to make sure it never happens.
Luckily there are still a few Republicans who actually care about the country.
"I'm trying to figure out a way that we can get an infrastructure package that can find support, so let's make this happen," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the New York Times. "Around this place there's a lot of things that appear to be dead that take on a life of their own afterward."
But if patriotism doesn't work, there's always good, old-fashioned pork barrel spending to grease the skids. Playbook reports that Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy told Biden "the way to his heart is 'flood resiliency and energy provisions.'"
And if that's what it takes, laissez les bontemps rouler, bébé!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.