Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said Democrats would have an 'easy win' with President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill — if they'd just cut out the two-thirds of it Republicans don't like.
Prominent Republican voices are insisting that if President Joe Biden truly cared about a bipartisan approach to his jobs and infrastructure plan, he would implement a Republican wish list and pass a version of the legislation that they liked.
"I believe that President Biden does want a bipartisan approach. I have no reason to believe that he has changed," Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Politico over the weekend. "But I think that there is a lot of pressure on him from his staff and from outside leftist groups. And I would urge him to remember his past successes in negotiating bipartisan bills."
On Sunday, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) also slammed the bill as a "partisan package," saying that Democrats could score an "easy win" on the infrastructure package — if they'd just cut out the 70% of it that Republicans don't like.
"I think there's an easy win here for the White House if they would take that win, which is make this an infrastructure package, which is about 30 percent, even if you stretch the definition of infrastructure some, it's about 30 percent of the $2.25 trillion we are talking about spending," Blunt said Sunday on Fox News.
He added, "Obviously Democrats have figured out that infrastructure is something we need and something that's popular, and so they're trying to take 70 percent of this bill and call it infrastructure in a new way than we've ever talked about infrastructure before — and that means you're looking at another partisan package just like we had with COVID."
Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, would provide $621 billion for transportation infrastructure as well as $650 billion for domestic infrastructure. It would also disburse $400 billion to support the "caretaking economy" for elderly and disabled Americans, and $580 billion toward research and development across various sectors.
Polling shows that many of the components of the plan are overwhelmingly popular with Americans, including Republicans. For example, 87% of Americans — including 84% of Republicans — support repairing roads and bridges.
Despite that bipartisan support, GOP lawmakers are claiming Biden's plan is not bipartisan.
It's not the first time Republicans have claimed that Biden's inaugural promises of unity and bipartisanship should mean Republicans get their way on everything.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy criticized Biden's early executive orders in January, saying, "Those are places that I think you could find unity. He knows the agenda and those executive orders he is signing are partisan. That's dividing."
The California Republican added that Biden couldn't "unite this nation" if he continued to do things Republicans didn't like, saying, "I'm afraid that looking at this administration that this is the start, what more is there to come? You won't be able to unite this nation, and everybody believes the division needs to be united to make America stronger."
Republicans have also claimed Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure bill is just a partisan tax hike that would harm working-class Americans. But Biden's plan only raises taxes on U.S. corporations and people making over $400,000 a year.
Numerous congressional Republicans have also insisted that "infrastructure" means only roads and bridges, slamming the plan for containing line items dealing with water and energy infrastructure.
And despite the widespread popularity of Biden's economic policies and professional projections that his jobs and infrastructure package would help restore the economy and create 19 million jobs, Republicans are continuing to stonewall his economic legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to block Biden's infrastructure bill.
"I’m going to fight them [Democrats] every step of the way, because I think this is the wrong prescription for America,” the Kentucky Republican said of the package Tuesday. "That package that they’re putting together now, as much as we would like to address infrastructure, is not going to get support from our side."
But Democrats could push the bill through without Republican support. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is making efforts to revise the budget for fiscal year 2021 so that Democrats can use the process of budget reconciliation to pass the $2 trillion infrastructure bill. This would enable Democrats to pass it with a simple majority — without a single Republican vote.
The parliamentarian is expected to rule soon on whether it's permissible under Senate rules for Democrats to put forward a second budget reconciliation bill in 2021. The first was the American Rescue Plan, Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, which also passed without a single Republican vote in the House or Senate.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that the time is right for Democrats to enact a strong infrastructure plan. "Right now, we're still coasting off of infrastructure choices that were made in the 1950s," he said. "Now's our chance to make infrastructure choices for the future that are going to serve us well in the 2030s and on into the middle of the century."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.