By Jarrett Renshaw
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is preparing to ratchet up pressure on wobbly lawmakers to push forward a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal amid concerns from both parties, a White House official said on Saturday.
White House advisers Steve Ricchetti and Louisa Terrell spoke to individual senators on Friday to convey the president’s enthusiasm for the deal and express his confidence that it will ultimately pass, the official said.
To put public pressure on lawmakers, Biden plans to begin traveling the country to promote the agreement, highlighting its potential economic benefits and the importance of bringing bipartisanship back to the polarized nation’s capital. The effort is aimed at both Republicans and even some Democrats who the White House believes want the deal to unravel, the official said.
Within hours of the agreement being announced on Thursday, Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, expressed frustration that Biden explicitly connected its signing and a multi-trillion dollar social spending package that Democrats will try to push through Congress without relying on Republican support.
Biden has not repeated that demand publicly and White House officials have struck a softer tone publicly and in private, choosing to emphasize how they will defer to Congress on the way forward.
The 11 Republicans in the group of 21 senators who endorsed the infrastructure package face pressure from within their party to abandon the agreement.
The $1.2 trillion framework includes $579 billion in new spending on major investments in the power grid, broadband internet services and passenger and freight rail. The package would be paid for through more than a dozen funding mechanisms, including $100 billion in estimated tax revenues from a ramp-up in enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service, and unused COVID-19 aid money.
Meanwhile, Democrats are cobbling together a spending bill that could include money for schools, climate change mitigation, and support for parents and caregivers. It will also likely include Biden’s bedrock pledge to make the U.S. economy more fair by increasing taxes on the rich and corporations.
That spending bill would most likely have to pass through a legislative process known as reconciliation that avoids a Senate rule requiring 60 votes to move a bill along. Democrats cannot afford to lose one vote in the Senate if they want to pass a spending bill along party lines.
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