White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday would not give an estimated amount of combined spending in two of President Joe Biden’s top priority bills dealing with infrastructure.
“The president will continue to advocate for components of his Build Back Better agenda, the American Families Plan, components he’s laid out in his budget and pieces of his American Jobs Plan that were not included in the bipartisan package," Psaki said during Monday’s press briefing when asked what number in spending the administration was seeking.
An estimated $6-$7 trillion in total spending could emerge out of a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that is being finalized, and as much as $6 trillion that Democrats could push through Congress without Republican votes with a separate “budget reconciliation” bill.
The smaller bill, which gained bipartisan agreement last month, would be paid for in part by unused COVID relief funds as well as money already doled out to state and local governments through Biden’s American Rescue Plan which passed earlier this year.
While the smaller bill has some Republican support, enough to get it passed, the larger bill, which includes several Biden priorities removed from the smaller package, would likely die in the Senate without the 10 GOP votes needed to break a filibuster.
Democrats can circumvent that inevitability, however by using the budget reconciliation process so that a simple majority vote can pass the bill despite Republican opposition.
Democrat Congressional leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have said both measures must move through the process together.
“Back in April, when the president said we would move forward on two tracks — that we would seek a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure and that we would work with Democrats on a budget reconciliation process that included key components of the American Families Plan — there was some skepticism about the possibility of that moving forward and that’s a diplomatic definition of how the broad reaction was,” Psaki said Monday.
Schumer said he wants the bills to come up for a vote this month.
Psaki said that meetings between all the parties involved with the bills continue, and that President Biden would be “engaged” in those discussions.
She said the White House is expecting “ups and downs” as things progress and it is both “bracing for, and ready for” issues that may come up.
It is not clear, however, if the Republicans that agreed to the smaller bill would withdraw support if the larger bill is pushed through Congress by Democrats.
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