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Democratic frustrations flirt with infrastructure negotiations

WASHINGTON – Democratic frustrations over drawn-out infrastructure talks spilled over on Wednesday after a failed bipartisan effort gave way to new negotiations, with grim prospects of bridging a wedge between the two sides.

The unrest spanned the spectrum, from progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., to moderates like Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Each warning President Joe Biden not to compromise too much. on priorities such as raising taxes. income or investments aimed at mitigating climate change.

Democrats are trying to pressure their leaders to move forward without Republicans – a demand that would be futile unless Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who called for more bipartisan outreach, agrees to move forward. ‘forward on the basis of a party line.

“An infrastructure package that goes light on climate and clean energy should not count on every Democratic vote”, Senator Martin Heinrich, DN.M., mentionned, responding to a report in which Biden’s climate adviser Gina McCarthy warned of the difficulty of taking aggressive climate action.

Bennet, who is known for his moderate instincts, replied to Heinrich: “I totally agree.”

Ocasio-Cortez called to Biden and the Democrats to stop “playing cake” with Republicans and moving forward with priorities, like forcing “big business and the rich” to “pay their fair share of taxes.”

The remarks illustrate growing impatience among Democrats over protracted negotiations that appear unlikely to reach a deal on the scale that Biden has said is necessary. Lawmakers, who hold key votes in Congress, represent the pressure Biden finds himself in, as centrists like Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., continue to call for a deal with the GOP.

Manchin is part of a new bipartisan group that includes Senators Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Mitt Romney, R-Utah and Rob Portman, R-Ohio. He said they met for three hours on Tuesday.

“I never give up. I never give up,” Manchin told NBC News.

Many Democrats are rushing to pass a bill without Republicans as part of the same budget reconciliation process they used to approve the $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid bill in March.

“Look, they can continue with their talks, but we have to move forward on the alternative plans if these talks don’t succeed,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.,. “We have a chance that reconciliation will happen. For now, we need this to happen yesterday.”

For many Democrats, investments in clean energy are non-negotiable.

“We need to unify Senate climate members on a real reconciliation bill, lest we get sucked into the ‘bipartisan’ mud where we fail on climate,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, DI mentionned in an article on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Biden ended his negotiations with West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who had been exchanging offers with the president on behalf of Republican leaders for weeks. The two sides stuck hundreds of billions of dollars apart, and Biden rejected their latest offer as insufficient.

A senior Senate GOP official said the offer was likely as high as the party was willing to go.

Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Said he was working to get the process started to allow for a partisan vote, although separate negotiations continue.

It would take the votes of the 50 Democratic members to proceed.

“This country is facing huge crises,” said Sanders, calling the Republican offers on physical infrastructure “totally inadequate.”

“They talk about zero for climate change. Zero for housing. Zero for health care. Zero for reducing the cost of prescription drugs. Zero for child poverty,” he said.

In the House, the Problem Solvers Caucus, made up of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans, on Tuesday night launched $ 761.8 billion in new spending on physical infrastructure.

Senator Jon Tester, D-Mt., A member of the separate bipartisan Senate group, said he had “made good progress” and hopes to have a finished product soon.

“One week – and I’m just saying that as a rough number,” he said. “But time is running out here.”

One of the irreconcilable red lines between Democrats and Republicans is taxation. Biden called for an increase in taxes on corporations and people earning more than $ 400,000. Romney said Wednesday that tax increases remain a non-starter for the GOP, and Democrats should do it themselves.

“Elections have consequences,” Romney said. “The Democrats have a very strong majority and can go on their own. I think they would be making a mistake not to have a bipartisan effort, but that is their choice.”

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