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Will infrastructure finally bury Biden’s promise of bipartisanship?


President Biden. Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock

Tuesday marks the sixth month of President Biden’s inauguration and the bipartisan infrastructure deal he spent half of his presidency pursuing again does not come together. Republicans opposed a provision to tighten up IRS tax enforcement to help pay for the package, but Senate Democrats plan to go forward Wednesday with the first procedural votes on the still incomplete bill. Unsurprisingly, GOP senators promise efforts will fail.

The president is frustrated.

“We should be united on one thing – adopting the bipartisan infrastructure framework, which we shook hands with,” Biden said Monday. “We shook his hand.”

Her complaint is understandable, even though this moment was predictable from the start. The bipartisan infrastructure bill has never really been about infrastructure – most of the details could be passed as part of a Democrats-only reconciliation plan, if necessary. Which means that the bill is really about the bipartisanship part. The big question, then, is what the failure of the bill would mean for Biden’s approach to governance as a whole.

After all, Biden has spent a good chunk of his presidential campaign and his presidency publicly betting that the two parties can always work together for the national good, if only someone in the lead tries hard enough and does enough. reasonable. “Our politics have become too ugly, too mean, too confrontational,” Biden told Iowa primary voters last year. “With this president [Trump] away, we can actually start to change the dynamics. It was always wrong – bias tendencies are more important and harder to break than Biden’s ability to pull through – but it felt good. When that promise is gone, what is left for this president?

Without the imperative to work for bipartisan cooperation, Biden and the Democrats could probably govern in a simpler way while they still have a majority in both houses of Congress – although with the obstruction still in place, they won’t. can’t do much. But if the bipartisan infrastructure bill does fail, one of Biden’s leadership goals will have taken a heavy hit.

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