Negotiations on the American Jobs Plan and infrastructure took one step forward but two steps back as talks between President Biden and one group of Republicans collapsed and another bipartisan group came to an agreement almost certain to be rejected by the White House.
The group of five Democrat and five Republican senators said Thursday they struck a deal to spend $1.2 trillion over eight years, about half of which was to be new spending. But the framework relies on indexing the federal gas tax to inflation — which the White House indicated would violate its red line against a tax increase to those making less than $400,000 — and would far exceed the limit of $75 billion the president has said to be willing to take from as-yet unspent funds that were part of a previous COVID package.
Over recent weeks, all eyes have been on Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV., a key holdout among Democrats for either eliminating the filibuster or using the budget reconciliation process to pass legislation with just the Democrats’ 50-vote majority.
Progressive Democrats have grown increasingly vocal in their concern that the negotiations appear to be moving away from including substantial climate and clean energy provisions in the package. “It’s time to fish or cut bait,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, one of the chamber’s fiercest climate advocates, tweeted Wednesday, one of a number of Senate Democrats who vowed not to vote for a bill without climate provisions in it.
Al Gore piled on, calling Biden directly this week to urge the president to hold the line. Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced its $547 billion surface transportation bill overnight Wednesday. Committee Chair Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said the bill is meant to lay the foundations for passing the infrastructure package.
Originally published by Nexus Media.