Frustrated Democrats Ready to Abandon GOP Bipartisanship
By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 26 May 2021 09:35 AM
Democrats are losing patience with Republicans and warn they will not let the GOP "stand in our way" of passing legislation.
With most of the Democratic Party's top priorities stalled in the Senate, Democrats have focused on nominations and smaller bills that can gain enough support from both sides, The Hill reported Wednesday.
Now, Democrats are vowing to move forward without bipartisan support after weeks of talks that have produced mixed results.
"We always hope that our Republican friends will work with us on things. … We hope to move forward with Republicans, but we’re not going to let them saying ‘no’ stand in our way," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday.
Democrats have talked with Republicans seeking areas of agreement on various topics but also to show key moderates in their own caucus that they’re trying to work with the other side.
On Tuesday, Schumer set a deadline for moving forward with President Joe Biden's sweeping infrastructure plan with or without Republican support.
"That’s our plan, to move forward in July," he said.
Republicans and the White House appear to be far apart on the scope and price tag of the infrastructure bill, and on how to pay for it. Some moderate Democrats aren’t on board yet, either.
Senate GOP members were scheduled to send a new counteroffer to the White House on Thursday. It was expected to be around $1 trillion, and largely financed by unspent coronavirus funds.
Frustrated Democrats, however, seem eager to end the pursuit of bipartisanship.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said negotiators "have to make some progress really soon," as it was "close" to the time that Democrats should walk away.
Besides infrastructure, there's other legislation that has stalled.
After the House passed a police reform bill to expand background checks, Murphy has been leading discussions with Republicans to try to find a deal on guns. However, he said the talks were nearing an "expiration date" if lawmakers return from the one-week Memorial Day recess without an agreement.
Then there's immigration. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the majority whip and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said bipartisan talks were running up against familiar points of disagreement. That jeopardized the Senate’s ability to match protections passed by the House earlier this year dealing with agricultural workers and immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.
"I'm not happy with the progress that we’ve made. I think we need to do better," said Durbin, who added the U.S.-Mexico border was the biggest sticking point.
Amid all the slow progress, Republicans are expected to employ their first filibuster since Democrats took control of the 50-50 Senate. Most legislation requires 60 votes to pass the Senate.
GOP members are expected to block a bill that would establish a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. That likely will renew talk of Democrats trying to get rid of the legislative filibuster.
"I think if the Republicans filibuster Jan. 6, I don’t know that we’ll change any Senate rule," Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said, "but it will then become very key to the voting rights discussion."
Murphy said that there were "more conversations" happening among Democrats about the filibuster.
"We’ll bring a bunch of bills to the floor that we think should have bipartisan support to try to work out that bipartisan deal," he said. "But if we can’t, it may ultimately be proof that the filibuster is not bringing Republicans to the table."
Moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., issued a joint statement Tuesday urging Republicans to work with them on the Jan. 6 commission. Manchin, though, said he wasn’t willing to get rid of the filibuster if GOP senators block the bill.