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Trump-district Democrats hesitant to embrace reconciliation package

Democrats in Trump-won districts are hesitant about their party using the reconciliation process to ram through a second, partisan infrastructure package, even as the more progressive wing of their party demands it.

Driving the news: Axios surveyed all seven House Democrats representing districts former President Trump won in 2020 to hear their concerns with the current infrastructure debate. Nearly all are undecided about how they'll vote on either the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill or a partisan follow-up.

  • While they've yet to commit either way on either plan, it was clear most are uneasy with a budget resolution costing as much as the one Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) desires — $6 trillion.

What they're saying:

Rep. Cindy Axne (Iowa-3) said Democrats are "getting a little top-heavy with the $6 trillion."

  • "I just want to see a package that includes the things that I think are truly infrastructure today: more on broadband, definitely child care, and that's what I'm really trying to work for us to get those pieces in there."
  • She added that she would've preferred both parties hashing out one big infrastructure bill together, rather than two separate bills.

Rep. Andy Kim (N.J.-3) said his biggest priority is passing a bill that helps tackle climate change.

  • “The problem that I have with the reconciliation efforts or other things is that I see bold ideas and big numbers, but what I haven't heard from the White House is how much of the problem is it going to solve?"
  • "Is this 50% of the problem? Is this 70% of the problem? If I don't have that impact assessment, I don't actually know if that's the best use of our money and that it’s going in the right direction.”

Why it matters: Both bills face an uphill battle in the House, where Democrats hold just a four-seat majority.

  • These Democrats will be key to ensuring the House can deliver on President Biden's top legislative priority.

Reps. Jared Golden (Maine-2) and Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.-3) had no comment on reconciliation.

  • "My position is that a lot of us worked very hard, put in a lot of work into getting a good bipartisan infrastructure bill," Golden told Axios. "I think you learn through those processes that you stay at the table and keep talking about things.”
  • Kind said in a written statement that he is "thrilled" to see infrastructure investment happen on a bipartisan basis but ignored questions about the more ambitious partisan package.

Reps. Elissa Slotkin (Mich.-8) and Matt Cartwright (Pa.-8) emerged as the most open to passing a reconciliation bill.

  • "Just show me what we’re talking about and show me how it’ll help my district," Slotkin told Axios. "I think I’ve got some peers who are like, ‘Heck no. I’m not doing a reconciliation package.’ I’m not there."
  • Cartwright said he's supportive of the effort, despite having yet to see the text. Asked if he'd vote for both packages, he replied: "Probably, yes."

Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.-17), who has announced she will not run for re-election, said she has faith Democratic leaders and Biden will find the right solution.

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