Joe Biden’s campaign promise to work with the GOP is crashing into his political reality: It’s easier to just go around the Republican Party and pass his agenda with Democratic votes.
As Biden presses a fresh multitrillion-dollar proposal to spend new tax revenue on manufacturing, infrastructure and health care, the president and his party are poised once again to completely sidestep Senate Republicans whom Biden long argued he could work with. Sure, his White House says it would prefer to work with the GOP — but more importantly, Biden has indicated he’s not going to let the Republican Party stand in his way.
Sound familiar? That’s precisely how the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill played out just a few months ago. Both bills began with Biden suggesting a spending target and policy changes that Republicans simply won’t touch. But the Republicans whom the president has said he wants to work with are holding out hope that somehow this ends differently, with him making more effort to meet them halfway.
“I believe that President Biden does want a bipartisan approach,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has spoken to Biden regularly since the 2020 election. “I have no reason to believe that he has changed. But I think that there is a lot of pressure on him from his staff and from outside leftist groups. And I would urge him to remember his past successes in negotiating bipartisan bills.”
Biden’s administration gave a briefing on his new plan to centrist Republicans, though they worry that may just all be for show. That’s because Senate Democrats are preparing to pass yet another massive spending bill with a simple majority and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, using the blunt filibuster-proof tool known as budget reconciliation that would require zero GOP buy-in.
Collins said she has spoken one-on-one recently with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, describing the administration’s overall outreach as “significant.” But she said that for Republicans, “the question is: is the administration so wedded to the details of its plan, including its exorbitant top line, that these are just courtesy briefings as opposed to the beginning of a true dialogue?”