Show an ad over header. AMP

Exclusive: Bernie Sanders vows to move on infrastructure bill "as soon as possible"

Senate Democrats are readying to pass President Biden’s infrastructure package through the budget reconciliation process, a recognition they're unlikely to get much Republican support for a potential $2 trillion package.

Driving the news: Sen. Bernie Sanders told Axios on Tuesday he’s consulted with the White House about how to prepare for the next round of spending, and he's ready to do it immediately via reconciliation — a process he controls as chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

  • “If I have anything to say about it, it will, and I think the president wants it to happen," Sanders (I-Vt.) said during an interview in the Capitol.
  • Reconciliation requires only a simple 51-vote majority, rather than the usual 60 votes to pass major legislation.
  • A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

Why it matters: The current $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package, the first of the Democrats' three potential chances to use reconciliation, could be the easiest.

  • The bill enjoys widespread bipartisan support: not only do voters back it, but most political leaders agree it's urgently needed, with many existing coronavirus relief benefits expiring in mid-March.
  • The next bill — infrastructure — would fundamentally refigure the economy, and similar to previous efforts, Biden will face obstacles paying for it.
  • Passing another massive piece of legislation via reconciliation also could undermine the new president's unity pledge, giving Republicans an easy campaign theme ahead of the 2022 midterms.

What they're saying: "We need to address the economic crisis facing working families, and a second reconciliation bill will go a long way to beginning that process," Sanders said.

  • Sanders vowed to move on it “as soon as possible” and shot down the notion that Congress needs to space out legislation passed via reconciliation.
  • “We don’t have to wait a few more months … right?” the senator said, gesturing to an aide he referenced as "Mr. Reconciliation."
  • “We can go as quickly as possible,” the aide answered.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Axios he also anticipates Democrats will need to do infrastructure via reconciliation.

  • "I hope not ... but President Biden ran on a very bold agenda around infrastructure and reinvesting in our country," he said.
  • Coons added that he doesn't think it can happen immediately, and he expects there will be time between stimulus and infrastructure in which Biden makes an effort to work with Republicans on other legislation.
  • He cited gun violence and opioids as possible examples.

The other side: Republicans dismiss the infrastructure bill as cover for a "radical" climate change proposal and question how the government can afford it.

  • Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, told Axios: "It's actually going to turn into more of a climate change proposal that really placates their radical environmentalists. I think that that's where you're going to see the corporate tax raises.”
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said: "Where's that money coming from? We might as well, you know, throw away infrastructure, throw away rural broadband, because after they spend all this money on the COVID package, there's not going to be anything left."

Why fears of a SPAC bubble may be overblown

The SPAC surge continues unabated, with 10 new ones formed since Wednesday morning. And that's OK.

Between the lines: There are growing concerns that retail investors are about to get rolled, with smart sponsors taking advantage of dumb money.

Keep reading... Show less

Schumer says Democrats are "delighted" Ron Johnson is forcing relief bill to be read out loud

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) of going to "ridiculous lengths" to show his opposition to a COVID relief package widely supported by the American public, after Johnson demanded that the entire 600-page bill be read on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Johnson's procedural move will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate, during which Republicans will propose amendments to force uncomfortable votes for Democrats. Schumer promised that the Senate will stay in session "no matter how long it takes" to finish voting on the $1.7 trillion rescue package.

Keep reading... Show less

Why gas prices are back up

Data: EIA and FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Gas prices are hitting new post-pandemic highs across the country, but this isn't a story of America reopening. It's really just a function of the price of oil going up.

By the numbers: Gasoline cost $2.71 on average as of Monday, per the Energy Information Administration. The highest average price was $3.59 in Los Angeles, while the lowest was $2.33 in Houston.

  • All of these prices represent the highest level seen since 2019.

The big picture: The price of crude oil reflects more than half of the cost of a gallon of gasoline. (The rest is refinery costs, distribution costs, and taxes.)

  • Demand for oil has actually been declining, per the New York Fed, but supply has been falling even faster, with the result that prices have now topped $64 for a barrel of Brent crude.

What central bank digital currencies mean for crypto

Central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs,represent the ultimate ratification of digital finance: Its adoption by the most venerated guardians of the international monetary architecture.

Why it matters: Crypto-evangelists often talk about CBDCs in awed terms. But it's far from clear that the bitcoin-and-ethereum crowd would ultimately benefit from money going digital.

Keep reading... Show less

Capitol Police asks for National Guard to stay on-site for two more months

U.S. Capitol Police on Thursday asked that the National Guard remain on-site for an additional 60 days due to ongoing security concerns surrounding the building, AP reports.

Why it matters: While many lawmakers are eager for security measures surrounding the Capitol — including fencing and an increased law enforcement presence — to be lightened, the request by Capitol Police reflects concerns about ongoing threats.

Keep reading... Show less

Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

Keep reading... Show less

Leaked government documents spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.

Keep reading... Show less

Mounting emissions data paints bleak picture on Paris climate goals

Researchers keep finding new ways to reveal that nations are together showing very few signs of getting on track to meet the Paris Agreement's goals.

One big question: That's whether a spate of recent analyses to that effect, and scientific reports coming later this year, will move the needle on meaningful new policies (not just targets).

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories