President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted business and union leaders for a discussion at the White House on Thursday, as their administration seeks to build support for a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Biden told reporters during the gathering that the labor and business leaders were “not here to negotiate with one another,” saying that the unions have already expressed support for the measure.
“We’re looking for this bipartisan effort to get this infrastructure bill passed,” the president said. “It’s not about energy versus the environment, and it’s not about business versus labor, it’s all about basically a race to the future.”
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The money would go toward repairing roads and bridges, plus help “electrify our school buses and our transit systems, and build national charging networks for electric vehicles, and eliminate the nation’s lead service pipes,” according to Biden.
“There’s just a whole lot we can do that’s going to put a lot of people to work,” he said.
The meeting comes just one day after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., forced a procedural vote on the measure that failed in the upper chamber as Republicans balked at signing on to legislation that is yet to be written. Ahead of the vote, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., predicted, “I think it’s not gonna turn out to be a hard vote for almost every Republican to decide that we’re not gonna vote to proceed to a bill that doesn’t exist yet.”
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Schumer could bring the $1.2 trillion proposal up for a vote again as early as Monday. He needs 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats in agreeing to move it forward.
Meanwhile, Republicans are blasting Democrats’ additional $3.5 trillion proposal to address climate change and implement more social programs to expand the government safety net as inflation continues its rise following multiple trillions in federal stimulus packages to address the COVID-19 crisis. Schumer is expected to seek passage of that proposal via reconciliation, which is achievable without any GOP support if every Democrat in the 50-50 chamber gets on board.