Earlier today President Joe Biden announced that he’s reached a bipartisan infrastructure deal with five Republican Senators. This confused a number of people, both because the deal is much smaller than what Biden and the Democrats originally proposed, and because five Republican Senators isn’t enough to pass anything. But the details reveal that this is part of a bigger picture.
It turns out the Senate is looking to pass this bipartisan deal with sixty votes and a broader infrastructure package with fifty votes through reconciliation. The two bills, combined, will roughly add up to Biden’s original infrastructure plan. In essence, this allows wavering Senate Republicans to vote “yes” on things like roads and bridges, while voting “no” on everything else in Biden’s plan, even as both parts end up being passed into law via different methods.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today that she’s not willing to pass the bipartisan deal in the House until after the Senate passes the reconciliation deal. But that’s fine, because Joe Manchin confirmed today that the reconciliation deal is going to be “inevitable” because it’s the only way to pay for the full plan.
This still means that another five Republican Senators will have to get on board with the bipartisan deal, so it passes with sixty votes. There’s no guarantee this will happen. But the five Senate Republicans who cut this deal surely did it with at least five other Senate Republicans in mind who would be willing to get on board with the terms that have been negotiated.
In other words, it appears that President Biden and the Democrats are going to more or less get their full infrastructure package after all, just in two parts. This allows Manchin to save face, after he previously insisted that any infrastructure package be bipartisan in nature. It allows Biden to get roughly what he wanted to begin with. And it’s a win for the American people.
Keep in mind that due to the complex manner in which this is all coming together today, there’s understandably quite a bit of confusion among observers, who may have initially thought that Biden “caved” with a smaller deal, and are probably just now starting to realize that there are actually going to be two infrastructure deals. But unless something falls through from here, this is shaping up to be a huge win for Biden and the Democrats.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report