As Biden's infrastructure plan advances, can GOP get to yes?
WASHINGTON (AP) — For President Joe Biden and the senators laboring over a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure package, there’s just one question left: Can enough Republicans get to yes?
Seventeen GOP senators joined all Democrats in voting this week to start the debate, launching what will be a dayslong process to consider the bill. The 67-32 vote was a surprisingly strong bipartisan showing, a rarity these days in the narrowly split Congress.
But whether the number of Republican senators willing to pass a key part of Biden's agenda grows or shrinks in the days ahead will determine if the president's signature issue can make it across the finish line.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, the lead Republican negotiator, predicts support will only swell ahead of final votes.
“That’s pretty darn good for a start,” Portman said after Wednesday’s outcome. “We can build on that as members begin to realize the impact of these projects on their states and the people they represent.”
For Republican senators weighing their options, there are plenty of reasons to stick with no.
The bipartisan Biden plan is big, with $550 billion in new spending beyond the typical highway and public works accounts. It’s being financed from funding sources that may not pass muster with deficit hawks, including repurposing untapped COVID-19 relief aid and relying on projected future economic growth.
Besides, GOP opponents of Biden's plan argue, passing this first part of the White House's infrastructure agenda almost certainly helps pave the way for Democrats to pass a much bigger $3.5 trillion package on child care, health care and other far-reaching proposals that Republicans staunchly oppose. They call that plan a “reckless spending spree," but can do little to stop it under special budget rules that won't...