Speed Reads

Infrastructure week continues

GOP senators say bipartisan infrastructure deal is back on track after Biden's clarification. Manchin backs 2nd bill.

Senate Republicans on Sunday appear to have accepted President Biden's clarification on the landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal announced last week — or at least the Senate Republicans who helped negotiate the package. 

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told CNN's State of the Union that "the waters have been calmed" by Biden's statement that he would sign the bill even without a second, Democrats-only package on his desk. Republicans "were glad to see them disconnected," Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a lead negotiator, said on ABC's This Week. "And now we can move forward."

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said bipartisan bill is needed but linking them together had endangered its passage. "If we can pull this off, I think [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch [McConnell (R-Ky.)] will favor it," he said on NBC's Meet the Press. "He didn't like the president throwing the wrench in there saying, 'Listen, the two are tied together.'" 

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), one of the Democratic negotiators, told CBS's Face the Nation he thinks the legislation "will get far more than 60 votes in the end." Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also sounded an optimistic note on the infrastructure package on This Week, but he said he could support the second American Families Plan as well, if Democrats paid for the bill.

Manchin said he would like to raise the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, from 21 percent, and tax capital gains at 28 percent, and if Republicans won't get on board, he would be open to do it without them through the budget reconciliation process. The "human infrastructure" package couldn't get his support if it reached the $6 trillion price tag Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is talking about, Manchin said. "If they think in reconciliation I'm going to throw caution to the wind and go to $5 trillion or $6 trillion when we can only afford $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion or maybe $2 trillion and what we can pay for, then I can't be there."

Biden has to get progressive Democrats to support the infrastructure package for it to pass, also, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Meet the Press that "it's very important for the president to know that House progressives and the Democratic caucus are here to ensure he doesn't fail." Collaborating with Republicans is good, she added, but "that doesn't mean that the president should be limited by Republicans."