President Joe Biden on Thursday told reporters that he won’t be signing the bipartisan infrastructure deal if Congress does not also pass a another measure—a budget resolution that Democrats call “human infrastructure” that they want to push through via reconciliation to bypass the Senate filibuster.
Biden told reporters at the White House that he would not sign the bipartisan deal if it was the “only one” that seeks his desk.
“I’m not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest that I proposed,” he later said, adding that the Democrat-pushed package that seeks to expand the nation’s social safety net is “equally important” to the bipartisan bill that deals with physical, more traditional infrastructure needs.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference at the Capitol earlier on Thursday that she would not hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill “until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he supports Pelosi’s plan, calling it “a good way to ensure that both ends go forward.”
Biden was in agreement with his Democrat colleagues, telling reporters on Thursday, “I’m going to work closely with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer to make sure that both move through the legislative process promptly and in tandem. Let me emphasize that: and in tandem.”
The bipartisan infrastructure deal Biden announced earlier in the day is projected to cost $973 billion over five years—$579 billion of which is new spending. The total cost would rise to $1.2 trillion if projected over an eight year span. The new spending will be on building roads, bridges and highways, as well as power and broadband infrastructure, public transport and water infrastructure, among other initiatives.
The budget resolution that Democrats want to push through Congress involves what Biden proposed in his American Families Plan, which includes spending on home health care and child care, education, and other areas. The measure has been dubbed as “human infrastructure,” as opposed to the bipartisan bill that offers “physical infrastructure.”
“I’m getting to work with Congress right away on the other half of my economic agenda as well—the American Family Plan—to finish the job on childcare, education, the caring economy, clean energy tax cuts—clean energy, and tax cuts for American families, and much more,” Biden told reporters, referring to the second measure he wants passed.
Democrats want to pass this measure through a Senate process called reconciliation, which would just require a simple majority to pass. Democrats would otherwise have to persuade 10 Republicans to support the bill to meet the 60 votes required to end a filibuster. Schumer launched the reconciliation process on June 16.
With the narrow majority Democrats hold in the upper chamber, the bill could theoretically be passed without Republican support if all Democrats vote in favor of the bill. They would need to garner support from moderates, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized Biden’s latest remarks. “Less than two hours after publicly commending our colleagues and actually endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the President took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it. It almost makes your head spin,” he said on the Senate floor.
One of the 21 senators who had negotiated the bipartisan bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said on Twitter, “If reports are accurate that President Biden is refusing to sign a bipartisan deal unless reconciliation is also passed, that would be the ultimate deal breaker for me.”
“I don’t mind working with the other side for the common good, but I’m not going to be extorted by liberal Democrats or anyone else,” he added.