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WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House is trying to get President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal back on track after Republican senators rejected his demand to combine the nearly $ 1 trillion plan with an even larger investment package.
Tensions appeared to have cooled on Saturday after White House negotiators Steve Ricchetti and Louisa Terrell assured Senators that Biden was still excited about the deal even though he had said he would not sign a law that it was because trillions more would be accompanied in a separate measure. You said the President would try to forcefully defend the first deal in public.
According to a person familiar with the counselors’ calls to lawmakers, Biden’s team has portrayed the aftermath of what he said as nothing more than the back and forth that can happen in negotiations in Washington. Biden plans to present the deal while traveling around the country and is confident it will become law, said this person, who was not empowered to publicly discuss the private conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
“My hope is we can still do that,” said Ohio Senator Rob Portman, the leading Republican negotiator, in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday.
“It’s really good for America. Our infrastructure is in bad shape, ”he said. “It’s time to do it.”
The sudden fluctuations indicate the difficult road ahead for what is expected to be a long process to translate Biden’s nearly $ 4 trillion infrastructure proposals into law.
What had been a solemn moment for Biden and a group of 10 senators last week with the announcement of a rare bipartisan deal was shaken by Biden’s insistence at a press conference that he would not sign this first bill unless Congress also adopted its broader package of planned investments.
The two measures have always been expected to come together in Congress: the bipartisan plan and a second bill that would be driven under special rules that would only allow passage by a Democratic majority. But the president then conditioned each other.
Some senators felt “blind” what they said was a shift in their understanding of his position.
The White House did not specifically retract Biden’s remarks, but the message conveyed in the last round of calls and public statements attempted to allay the senators’ concerns.
In Biden’s call to Democratic negotiator, Arizona’s Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the president said he was looking forward to both bills being signed, the White House said.
Not all senators were swayed by the reach of the White House, which came after a tumultuous month of repeated negotiations on Biden’s top legislative priority.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said senators shouldn’t have been surprised by the two-pronged strategy. “It wasn’t a secret. He didn’t say it quietly. He didn’t even whisper it, ”she said at their meeting on Friday.
Psaki said the president plans to stand by his commitment to the senators. “And he expects you to do the same,” she said.
The Democrats’ two-pronged strategy has been to put both the bipartisan deal and their own broader priorities side by side to reassure Liberals that the smaller deal will not be the only one.
But Biden’s promise to essentially veto or refuse to sign the bipartisan agreement without the ancillary package, which now targets nearly $ 6 trillion in childcare, Medicare, and other investments, was an added step that brought the process in Asks a question.
A bipartisan deal was important for the White House as it seeks to show centrist Democrats, including Sinema, Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and others that it is working with Republicans before Biden tries to get the broader package through the Bring Congress.
“There is a lot of talk going on right now about what the president meant,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., In an interview with a Fox partner in New Orleans who shared his office.
Cassidy noted that the president may have mispronounced himself and said he hoped, “It won’t be like we created something just to give the president some leverage to do something that the Republicans disagree. “
Ten Republican Senators would be required to pass the bipartisan agreement in the 50-50 Senate, which requires 60 votes to pass most of the bills.
While the senators in the bipartisan group are among the more independent-minded lawmakers known for defying their party’s leadership, it seems that Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s criticism of Biden’s approach could replace GOP support.
Associated press writers Darlene Superville, Josh Boak, Kevin Freking and Dan Sewell contributed to this report.
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