House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday touted new provisions that could make their way into President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and dismissed lawmakers’ concerns that too much of the proposed spending isn’t geared toward infrastructure, setting the stage for how negotiations may play out as lawmakers return to Washington this week.
In an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, Pelosi blasted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for suggesting earlier this month that another relief package wasn’t necessary because the economy could be fully reopened by early summer, saying that “crowded venues and no mask-wearing and the rest are not a positive sign” that the economy is growing.
“Overwhelmingly, this bill is about infrastructure in the traditional sense of the word,” the Speaker said in response to Republican objections that as little as 5% of the proposal is actually geared toward spending on infrastructure like roads, bridges, water systems and mass transit.
“It’s also human infrastructure that is involved,” she added, saying that provisions to lower the cost of prescription drugs, prolong the child tax credit introduced in the American Rescue Plan and make family and medical leave permanent could all make their way into the second part of Biden’s proposal—to be unveiled later this month.
Despite a shrinking lead among Democrats in the House, Pelosi said she has “no doubt” that the chamber will be able to pass a “great bill” that she’s “hopeful” will be bipartisan before July 4.
Appearing on CBS shortly after, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said the bill would need to be “fundamentally redone” in order for Republicans to get on board and doubled-down on her assertion that less than 6% of the bill is actually geared toward infrastructure with bipartisan support, saying the rest is “focused on helping Democrat allies around the country.”
“I’m really concerned about the impact on the economy [and] the potential inflationary pressure that we might see with this additional injection of cash,” Cheney added, echoing the warnings invoked by other Republicans about the potential consequences of additional government spending.
“Infrastructure, it’s about education, about getting children healthily in school with separation, sanitation, ventilation. It’s about investments in housing as well,” Pelosi said Sunday. “The figure that they use to say that [infrastructure is] just a small percentage of the bill is a ridiculous one.”
“This is a pattern that we watch the Democrats use time and again—where they massively increase spending, they massively expand the size and scope of the federal government, and then they come back around and impose middle-class tax increases,” Cheney said Sunday. “Those are not things that I support.”
Released at the end of last month, Biden’s proposal includes about $380 billion in proposed spending for the nation’s electric grid, roads, bridges, public transit and freight rail services, but it also includes things like $174 billion in proposed investments for the electric-vehicle market and $213 billion to create more than 2 million affordable homes and office buildings that are equipped with sustainable energy. Republicans quickly pushed back on the latter provisions and are also against the proposed tax hikes that Biden wants to fund the spending. The plan is also facing Democratic opposition in the evenly split Senate, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) saying he and about 6 or 7 Democrats “feel strongly” that Biden’s proposed 28% corporate tax rate is too high. The president has suggested he could negotiate the rate, but it’s still unclear how everything will pan out in Congress.