WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden said Monday that his infrastructure and families agenda must be passed in order to maintain the economic momentum of his first six months in office, with the aim of setting the tone for a pivotal week of Congressional negotiations on the two To lay down bills.
However, a deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday for the bipartisan infrastructure bill was in doubt as Republicans signaled they would likely oppose a procedural vote for now while details are still being worked out. Senators argue over how to pay the new spending on the $ 1 trillion package on freeway, water supply, and other public works projects.
At the same time, Democrats are developing the details of a separate bill that would invest a staggering $ 3.5 trillion nationwide in the lives of Americans – with support for families, education, climate resistance, and other priorities that they ultimately want to pass with all-Democratic support. Democrats hope to make progress on the bill before lawmakers leave Washington for hiatus in August.
The legislative maneuver is an important test of Biden’s ability to deliver on a massive package of economic promises and reforms made during his campaign. He has put public pressure on lawmakers through a series of speeches highlighting the need to strengthen the economy while stressing the need for further investment to continue that growth and strengthen the middle class.
“What the best companies do – and what we should do as a country – is to make intelligent, sustainable investments with adequate funding,” said the president on Monday in the White House.
Calling his plans a “blue blueprint for rebuilding an American economy,” Biden said, “This is the best strategy to create millions of jobs and empower middle class families, raise wages and keep prices affordable over the long term. “
The economy has come back to life as more Americans were vaccinated and Biden’s previous $ 1.9 trillion aid package crossed the country. Employers have created an average of nearly 543,000 jobs per month since January, with Federal Reserve officials expecting aggregate economic growth of about 7% this year, which would be the highest since 1984. However, there is also uncertainty as employers say they are struggling to find workers at current wage levels and inflation concerns have yet to be completely dismantled.
Republican Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell condemned the “spending frenzy” as “the last thing American families need”.
McConnell and outside groups, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, encouraged Republicans to vote against the bipartisan package until they have more details. “I think we need to see the law before we decide whether to vote for it or not,” McConnell told reporters at the Capitol.
The president is pushing for more than $ 4 trillion in combined spending in hopes of solid economic gains. Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion package, which focuses on climate, schools, and families, will require the support of all 50 Senate Democrats to clear a party line vote.
The key to Biden’s message is that growth is going as intended and helping the U.S. middle class. However, much of it is expected to fade when the economy fully recovers from the pandemic.
But his $ 973 billion infrastructure deal with a group of Senate Republicans lacks a clear plan for how it will be paid as GOP lawmakers have refrained from tougher enforcement by the IRS.
Instead, senators from the bipartisan group are considering pulling back a Trump-era rule on pharmaceutical rebates that could raise around $ 170 billion for infrastructure. No decisions have been made yet as the senators prepare to huddle late Monday to discuss next steps.
Over the weekend, Republicans resented the prospect of a vote on Wednesday, finding that key questions about paying for expenses still remained unanswered. The package takes 60 votes to defeat a GOP filibuster or delaying tactic and pass the Senate – which means at least 10 Republicans must join all 50 Democrats to support it. With Republicans still voicing concerns about the package, the success of Wednesday’s procedural vote remains in doubt.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday denied questions about the future of the bill and the government’s actions in the event of an unsuccessful vote on Wednesday.
“In Washington two days are a lifetime, so I don’t think we will predict the death of the infrastructure package,” she told reporters.
Biden also used Monday’s remarks to defend himself against Republican critics of his plans, who argue that massive federal investment in the economy will fuel inflation.
Consumer prices rose 5.4% for the year ended June, the highest annual increase since August 2008. Higher inflation can undermine workers’ wages and ultimately affect economic growth.
Biden said Monday that his proposed investments would help rebuild U.S. supply chains and ease pressure on U.S. manufacturing that some economists say contributed to inflation.
“If we make prudent, multi-year investments in better roads, bridges, transportation systems and high-speed internet, a modern, resilient power grid, this is what will happen: It will overcome the bottlenecks in our economy,” he said.
“These steps will increase our productivity and raise wages without raising prices. That won’t increase inflation, it will take inflationary pressures off, ”added Biden.
Associate press writers Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro, and Kevin Freking contributed to this story.
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