Schumer Considering Caving To GOP’s Demands

( After infrastructure negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans broke down last week, President Biden enlisted the help of a “bipartisan” group of ten Senators to come up with a negotiated framework to garner the much-needed 60 vote threshold in the Senate.

Last Thursday, this group of ten announced they had arrived at a preliminary framework for a $1.7 Trillion infrastructure bill that would not include tax increases.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed openness for the group’s framework, however he said he wanted to wait until he sees it in writing.

And while he is open to a bipartisan bill, Schumer also said that he would put forward a follow-up measure only supported by his Democrat colleagues.

This second “track” would never meet the 60-vote threshold, but Schumer plans to bring the measure to the floor and push it through using the so-called “reconciliation” maneuver which bypasses the 60-vote requirement to advance bills to a vote.

“I’ll look at it,” Schumer said of the group of ten’s framework. “But we continue to proceed on two tracks. A bipartisan track and a reconciliation track, and both are moving forward.”

One almost wonders if Schumer’s plan is to jettison the bipartisan framework entirely in favor of a strictly party-line reconciliation process.

The purpose of budget reconciliation is to make it easier for Congress to change existing law to bring spending and revenue in line with the priorities outlined in the Federal Budget. The last time Congress actually passed a Federal Budget was in 2008.

So any use of budget reconciliation to bypass the 60-vote requirement when there hasn’t been a budget in over twelve years is nothing but a cravenly partisan move.

Recall that the Affordable Care Act passed the Senate in 2010 with only 56 votes by this very exploitation of the budget reconciliation process.

As it is, Senate Democrats aren’t particularly happy with the bipartisan framework negotiated by the group of ten. The primary point of contention is the “narrow focus” on physical infrastructure rather than the wildly broad definition of infrastructure floated by the Democrats.

The other objection, of course, is the agreement to rule out any tax increases to pay for the plan. Democrats continue to demand the bill include tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.