A chief Republican negotiator hailed Joe Biden’s withdrawal of his threat to veto a bipartisan $ 1.2 billion infrastructure bill, unless a separate Democratic spending plan is also adopted by Congress.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman said on Sunday that he and his fellow Republican negotiators were “blinded” by Biden’s comments, which the president made Thursday after he and senators announced a rare bipartisan compromise on a measure aimed at repairing roads, bridges and ports.
“I was very happy to see the president clarify his words because it was inconsistent with everything we had been told throughout the process,” Portman told ABC this week.
Moments after the deal was announced, Biden appeared to endanger him with his comment that he should move “in tandem” with a larger bill that includes a host of Democratic priorities he hopes to convey according to party lines.
Biden said of the infrastructure bill on Thursday: “If that’s the only thing that comes to mind, I don’t sign it. “
The comments put party pressure on the 11 Republicans from the group of 21 senators who approved the infrastructure package.
A Republican, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said Politico Biden had passed off his group of senators as “fucking idiots.”
Biden released a statement on Saturday that essentially removed the threat, saying it was never his intention.
Biden said he “created the impression that I was launching a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intention … The bottom line is this.” I gave my word to support the infrastructure plan and that is what I intend to do.
The White House said Biden would tour the United States to promote the bipartisan agreement, starting from Wisconsin on Tuesday.
“We were happy to see them disconnected and now we can move on,” Portman said.
A key Democratic senator, West Virginia centrist Joe Manchin, told ABC he believed the bipartisan proposal could reach the 60 votes needed to become law.
“This is the largest infrastructure package in the history of the United States of America,” said Manchin. “And there is no doubt in my mind that [Biden] can’t wait for this bill to pass and sign it. And I can’t wait to be there when he does.
Manchin also called on progressives to support the bill as part of a process that will see Democrats attempt to pass a larger spending bill containing political priorities opposed by Republicans via a simple majority.
“I hope all my colleagues will take a look at it in the most positive light,” Manchin said.
“They now have the opportunity to review it. He has more than ever for clean infrastructure, clean technology, clean energy technology, more money for bridges and roads since the construction of the interstate system, water, the elimination of our lead pipes. It connects with broadband across the country, and particularly in rural America, rural West Virginia. “
Another Republican, Mitt Romney of Utah, said he trusted Biden’s word on the deal – and was happy to point Democrats on the separate spending program.
“This is a stand-alone bill,” he told CNN’s State of the Union of the infrastructure deal. “I have every confidence that the president will sign if this is his office. The real challenge is whether Democrats can pull themselves together and put it on his desk.
“I think the battle that’s going on isn’t with the Republicans. Republicans are going to support real infrastructure that doesn’t raise taxes. But the Democrats want to do a lot of other things and I think they are the ones who are having a hard time deciding how to do it.
A leading House progressive, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, told NBC’s Meet the Press that it was “very important for the president to know that … the Democratic caucus is there to make sure he do not fail.
“And we’re here to make sure he succeeds in making sure we have a bigger infrastructure plan. And the point is that while we can applaud this work and welcome collaboration with Republicans … that doesn’t mean the president should be limited by Republicans, especially when we have a majority in the House, we have 50 Democratic senators. and we have the White house.
“I believe we can make sure that [Biden] succeeds in implementing a strong program for working families.