Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is surrounded by reporters as he leaves the Senate chamber following a vote, at the Capitol in Washington. Manchin is working with a bipartisan group of 10 senators negotiating an infrastructure deal with Joe Biden. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UPDATED 10:15 AM PT – Monday, June 21, 2021
Democrats have been faced with a steep hill to climb to get their infrastructure package passed. As lawmakers have made efforts to hash out a bipartisan infrastructure deal, Democrats have played tug-of-war between the more moderate and radical members of their party.
As of Sunday, a bipartisan group of 21 senators have worked on a $1.2 trillion plan. The group includes 11 Republicans, nine Democrats and one Independent. The bill’s price would be a far cry from the White House’s initial $4 trillion proposal.
Even with the bipartisan support, there’s still a chance that effort can fall short of garnering the 60 votes normally needed to pass through the Senate. If Democrats try to pass a smaller package through reconciliation, it seems unlikely to pass through without both progressive and moderate Democrats on the same page given the party’s razor thin Senate majority.
Radical left-wing lawmakers have signaled their unwillingness to budge on issues like so-called climate change, social welfare programs and gas tax. This includes Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has floated a bill as large as $6 trillion.
“We have a situation right now where people throughout this country cannot afford child care, elderly people cannot afford hearing aids or dental care,” he expressed. “We have a disaster in terms of climate impacting this country right now. How do you go forward?”
Congressional leaders have floated two packages: one that would be bipartisan and one that would would be far larger, which they would try to pass through reconciliation.
“Both are moving forward, the bipartisan track and the track on reconciliation,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) explained. “Both we hope to get done in month of July, both the budget resolution and the bipartisan bill.”
However, moderate lawmakers such as Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are expected to throw a wrench in that plan. Manchin has a history of thwarting Democrat efforts to forgo bipartisanship, including his recent attempt to pass a bipartisan voting bill with the For the People Act, his opposition to a $15 minimum wage and his opposition to eliminating the Senate filibuster.
Meanwhile, Sinema went viral for her vote against the $15 minimum wage and her decision not to show up for a vote on whether to continue with the January 6 commission.