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Senate progressives warn Joe Biden he needs their votes too

Progressives are starting to remind Joe Biden’s administration that Senator Joe Manchin (W. Va.) Is not the only Democrat who needs to deal with this as infrastructure talks enter a new phase this week .

Biden Tuesday officially ended negotiations with a senior Republican Senate official on a package to overhaul the country’s infrastructure system, focusing its attention on a larger bipartisan group of senators that includes moderates like Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona). This group drafts their own proposal in the hope of reaching an agreement that they can then present to the White House.

Progressive senators have so far remained quiet on the sidelines throughout the infrastructure negotiations. But they spoke more this week about their priorities – such as investments to electrify the country’s vehicles to tackle climate change – being excluded from any possible deal.

A pair of climate hawks took issue with comments from Biden’s climate adviser Gina McCarthy, who says Politico Tuesday that some of the administration’s radical climate proposals may not feature in the infrastructure package given the realities of a 50-50 Senate.

“An infrastructure package that goes light on climate and clean energy should not count on every Democratic vote,” Senator Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) tweeted Wednesday in response to McCarthy’s comments.

“Just a sweet and friendly reminder that the executive branch doesn’t write invoices,” added Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) And Jeff Merkeley (D-Ore.) Have expressed similar concerns.

McCarthy tried to clarify his comments on Wednesday, stressing that the administration continues to view tackling climate change as a major driver of job creation.

The White House has consistently highlighted the GOP’s lack of support for clean energy infrastructure as a major obstacle to a deal. A White House official said on Wednesday that senior officials had contacted the senators concerned.

Even if the Biden administration somehow finds 10 Republican votes needed to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package, which at the moment seems extremely difficult, its passage will also require the support of all Democrats in the Senate. .

“You shouldn’t assume that a bipartisan package has 50 Democratic votes,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Told reporters on Monday.

Progressives were already somewhat disappointed with the climate parts of Biden’s initial infrastructure plan. While this would represent a historic high for clean energy and climate change spending, it falls far short of what advocates were hoping for and what scientists say is needed to bring the U.S. economy’s carbon emissions to zero. .

In a private call reported by HuffPost shortly after the plan was rolled out, McCarthy acknowledged that climate advocates would be disappointed, but said they would still have to work to “hype” the plan.

“I don’t know if we will meet your expectations in terms of size, but it will definitely transform our economy,” she said.

So far, the complaints have come from lesser-known progressives like Schatz and Heinrich, rather than left-wing leaders in the Senate, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) And Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I- Vt.). While both have generically suggested that Biden shouldn’t invest too much time negotiating with Republicans, neither has specifically threatened to withhold his vote for an infrastructure package.

The plan the bipartisan group of senators is drafting is unlikely to include the ambitious climate proposals Democrats are seeking, according to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

“The Democrats’ climate agenda is probably something they are pursuing, by and large, outside of an infrastructure bill,” Romney said Wednesday.

Democrats are moving forward with a special budget process known as reconciliation, even as the Biden administration continues to seek GOP votes on infrastructure. Reconciliation will allow Democrats to avoid filibuster and pass a bill unilaterally in a party line vote.

But leading moderate Democrats like Manchin and Sinema have indicated they prefer to exhaust all possible efforts to achieve a bipartisan result before moving on to reconciliation. So for now at least, the Biden administration must satisfy both senators and engage in another round of bipartisan talks if it is to build on Manchin and Sinema’s votes for Democratic bills in the weeks to come.

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