Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Bernie Sanders impatient with Biden’s quest for GOP support on infrastructure

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) indicated to "Axios on HBO" he's already impatient with the White House's quest for Republican support for President Biden's infrastructure package, saying. "The American people want results" and don't care if these results are achieved with bipartisan votes.

Why it matters: The Budget Committee chairman and former presidential rival can cause a lot of headaches for Biden if he so chooses.He controls the budget process Senate Democrats have used to bypass GOP opposition and pass legislation on a pure party-line vote.


  • He's one of the Democrats' key progressive leaders and they can't afford to lose anyone in a 50-50 Senate.

Driving the news: To test Sanders' reaction to the White House's thinking on what has broadly been dubbed "infrastructure" — but in reality is a sweeping social welfare program that goes well beyond what is commonly understood as infrastructure — I asked the Vermont senator to react to a quote from the influential Biden aide Steve Ricchetti.

  • Here's what Ricchetti told the Washington Post: "We have a little more time for the consideration of this, and the percolation of these proposals, to have broader consultation and dialogue. There's more receptivity on the Republican side to having that dialogue, and they also see the potential to reach some common ground here."
  • Here's how Sanders reacted: "In general I don't agree with that. ... The bottom line is the American people want results."
  • "And frankly, when people got a, you know, $1,400 check or $5,600 check for their family, they didn't say, 'Oh, I can't cash this check because it was done without any Republican votes.'"

The big picture: In the White House's view, this infrastructure package doesn't carry the "emergency" label in the way the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package did. Aides think it would be harder to defend what they did on that package: ignore the Republican compromise proposal and immediately steamroll ahead with a Democrats-only package.

  • Sources familiar with the White House's internal thinking say Biden's inner circle sees little downside risk in taking some time to negotiate and to split up the infrastructure package to find something palatable to enough Republicans to get 60 votes.
  • The tax hikes Democrats are proposing on corporations and wealthy families — which Republicans probably will never support — are broadly popular. Biden advisers see little risk in passing a subsequent Democrat-only bill that contains these tax increases.
  • If Republicans support a smaller package that fits a traditional definition of infrastructure — say, one that covers roads, bridges, ports, etc. — it will give Biden and Democrats a bipartisan "win" to carry into the 2022 midterm elections.

Between the lines: The bigger challenge for Sanders and other progressives who are impatient with this period of closed-door bipartisan discussions is that it's not only the White House that wants to take a little time to negotiate.

  • Key Democrats in the Senate were frustrated that they didn't have a say in shaping the first coronavirus bill. They have made clear to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that they will not tolerate being rubber stamps again, and want time to go through a normal process of legislating and see if they can't strike a deal with Republicans.
  • This group of eager bipartisan negotiators includes Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a Biden ally, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and well-known moderate Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said they would like to see "progress by Memorial Day" and the bill passed by the summer.

Behind the scenes: While the White House has been talking to Republicans, it has also made sure to stay closely engaged with progressives.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris has talked to progressive members, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Katie Porter (D-Ohio), per a White House source.
  • And Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met last week with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The bottom line: If these bipartisan negotiations drag into the summer, expect progressives like Sanders to get increasingly vocal about their frustrations.

  • Sanders believes the lesson of the Obama era — in which the former president held out hope of getting Republicans to support the Affordable Care Act — isthat it's foolish to let Republicans slow-walk the Democratic agenda.
  • "Congress takes breaks and it's easy to obstruct," Sanders said. "The Senate is a very slow-moving process. ... I would begin, you know, starting this work immediately. If Republicans want to come on board, seriously, great. If not, we're going to do it alone."

Simone Biles will compete in her final Olympic event

Simone Biles will compete in the Olympic individual balance beam final, her last event of the Tokyo Games, USA Gymnastics announced Monday.

What's happening: "We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!" USA Gymnastics tweeted.

Keep reading... Show less

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 10 highlights

Day 10 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Puerto Rico bag its first-ever track gold medal when Jasmine Camacho-Quinn beat American world record holder Kendra Harrison to win the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday.

The big picture: There was better news for Team USA in the basketball, where the women's national team beat France 93-82 — meaning the Americans are entering the medal round undefeated as they go for yet another gold, Axios' Ina Fried reports from Tokyo. France still advanced to the quarterfinals as well.

Keep reading... Show less

Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe" with Japanese authorities, IOC says

Belarus' Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who's refusing orders to return home, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

Driving the news: The sprinter said she wouldn't obey orders and board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's s Haneda airport by team officials Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters. She spent the night in an airport hotel.

Keep reading... Show less

Olympic sprint champ Jacobs says reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win"

Italy's surprise 100-meters Olympic gold medalist Lamont Marcell Jacobs opened up Sunday about how reconnecting with his American father over the past year has helped spur him on.

What he's saying: The Texas-born sprinter told reporters after setting a European record of 9.80 seconds to win gold in Sunday's event that getting back in touch with his father "gave me the desire, the speed, that something more that helped me being here and win the Olympics."

Keep reading... Show less

Bipartisan Senate group releases $1 trillion infrastructure bill

A bipartisan group of senators released full legislative text for their $1 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill late Sunday night, setting it up for debate on the floor this week.

Why it matters: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer kept senators in town for a rare legislative weekend in order to formally begin debate on the 2,702-page bill. Now the Senate can begin a potentially days-long amendment process before a final vote this week.

Read the bill.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

American Raven Saunders protests oppression with "X" sign on Olympic podium

U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders told AP Sunday she placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the Olympic podium after winning a silver medal to stand up for "oppressed" people.

Why it matters: The International Olympic Committee has banned protests during the Tokyo Games, but Saunders, who is black and openly gay, said she wanted to take a stand.

Keep reading... Show less

High-ranking Democratic lawmaker in New Mexico House resigns amid allegations of fraud

A high-ranking New Mexico Democratic state lawmaker has resigned amid a federal investigation into possible fraud, racketeering, illegal kickbacks and money laundering,

Driving the news: Sheryl Williams Stapleton stepped down Friday as New Mexico's House majority leader, and from her seat, after state and federal authorities served subpoenas on an Albuquerque school district where Stapleton is employed.

Keep reading... Show less

House poses obstacle to passage of infrastructure bill

A 2,700-page bipartisan infrastructure bill was headed to Senate desks Sunday with promises it will pass the chamber by the end of the week. A final version was promised after additional edits.

Why it matters: While that's progress for the president’s most prominent 2021 legislative goal, the House is shaping up as a potential obstacle before money starts flowing to build new roads, bridges and expand broadband access.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories