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A top Biden official said Sunday that the president is open to pushing his $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan through Congress without Republican support.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm suggested that the White House may pursue passing the legislation through the parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation that requires a simple majority in the narrowly divided 50-50 Senate.
Senate Democrats used it to approve Biden’s $1.9 coronavirus stimulus plan last month.
“As he has said, he was sent to the presidency to do a job for America, and if the vast majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, across the country support spending on our country and not allowing us to lose the race globally, then he’s going to do that,” Granholm said of her boss on CNN’s “State of the Union,” although she added that the president would prefer bipartisan support.
“His sincere preference, his open hand, is to Republicans to come to the table and say, ‘if you don’t like this how would you pay for it, if you don’t like this, what would you include,’ so much of this though includes priorities that Republicans have supported,” she said.
But Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) urged the Biden White House to pare down parts of the package that don’t necessarily address the nation’s infrastructure needs if they want bipartisan approval.
“I think there’s an easy win here for the White House if they would take that win, which is make this an infrastructure package,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Calling infrastructure the “great white whale” that former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump were unable to control, he said Democrats are aware of how much the American public supports the initiative.
“So they’re trying to take 70 percent of this bill and call it infrastructure in a new way than we’ve ever talked about infrastructure before,” Blunt said.
If Biden and the Democrats want the win, they should “do this in a more traditional infrastructure way, and then if you want to force the rest of the package on Republicans in the Congress and the country, you can certainly do that. You’d still have all the tools available for what is clearly going to turn out to be another purely partisan exercise,” he said.
Republicans have criticized the plan that Biden unveiled last week because it would raise the corporate tax rate and hike other taxes to pay for it, while blowing up the nation’s deficit with its massive price tag.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Biden wants Republican support for the plan but added that the version he is proposing is “fully paid for.”
“Across, 15 years, it would raise all of the revenue needed for these once-in-a-lifetime investments. So by year 16, you’d actually see this package working to reduce the deficit,” Buttigieg said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
He also said Americans back the plan because they are tired of seeing corporations not paying any federal taxes.
“We’re just asking corporations to pay their fair share at a rate, by the way, that would be lower than it’s been for most of my life. Now, again, if folks on the Hill have other ideas about how to pay for it, we’re going to be interested to hear those ideas, but there is a clear vision to pay for this bill in full,” he said.
Biden has proposed raising the corporate rate to 28 percent from 21 percent.
Trump in his 2017 tax relief plan lowered the rate from 35 percent.
The Biden administration also said while it wants to raise the tax rate for the wealthy, it pledged that families making $400,000 a year or less would not be hit with any hike.
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