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My suspicion: Biden is not getting his way, so this is a head fake. As soon as he doesn’t get what he wants, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will push it through on a party-line vote, and put in all the poison pills in reconciliation.
From the New York Post:
A White House adviser on Sunday said President Biden will “change course” on his infrastructure deal if negotiations stall with Republicans — while GOP Rep. Susan Collins said “fundamental differences” between the two sides remain.
“He wants a deal. He wants it soon, but if there’s meaningful negotiations taking place in a bipartisan manner, he’s willing to let that play out,” Cedric Richmond said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“But again, he will not let inaction be the answer. And when he gets to the point where it looks like that is inevitable, you’ll see him change course,” he said Sunday.
Biden has lowered the price tag: from a $2.23 trillion plan to $1.7 trillion, but the Republicans rejected even this. Along with the hefty price tag is also the battle over what “infrastructure” entails. Roads and bridges? That’s so last century. Now, your infrastructure should entail being able to opt out of channels you don’t like on your cable bill.
I. Kid. You. Not.
The “Infrastructure Bill,” which is likely going to pass through budget reconciliation, MUST have a provision that requires cable/dish/streaming services to allow customers to opt out of paying for & receiving networks they find objectionable, up to 30% of the “bundle.”
— Pam Keith, Esq. (@PamKeithFL) May 20, 2021
Then there is still that sticky problem of embedding the PRO Act and ABC Test into the bill as so-called infrastructure. As this Wall Street Journal video highlights, Biden and Labor insist that it must stay.
Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), who is one of the leads on these talks, had this to say:
“There continue to be vast differences between the White House and Senate Republicans when it comes to the definition of infrastructure, the magnitude of proposed spending, and how to pay for it,” Moore said. “Based on today’s meeting, the groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden.”
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (R-IL) told reporters that Republicans and Democrats are “pretty far apart” in terms of an agreement, especially with Biden’s own self-imposed Memorial Day deadline.
A) From colleague Kelly Phares. Durbin on infrastructure: "We're getting down to decision time. We can't put this off indefinitely so I hope they can reach an agreement. They're still pretty far apart."
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 24, 2021
The Wall Street Journal merely confirms what I posited earlier:
The overall politics are no better for Republicans. Public concern is appropriately growing about the giant Democratic spending plans, and how that might play out in higher taxes or inflation. Democrats now own the results. Yet if the GOP helps Mr. Biden pass his public-works plans, it will share responsibility and lose what could be a potent issue for 2022.
A bipartisan deal also won’t get the GOP any policy moderation from Democrats. Mr. Biden has already said he’ll pocket whatever he can get in a deal with Republicans, and then he’ll pass the rest with Democratic votes using budget reconciliation.
As is typical of D.C., it is all theater.