President Nancy Pelosi of California has said she hopes to pass President Biden’s big infrastructure bill as early as July 4 – even as Republicans lined up on Wednesday to virtually oppose the hike in prices. taxes slated to fund the $ 2 trillion measure.
The ambitious timetable could slip as debate intensifies over certain aspects of the plan, especially as Democrats hold such a narrow majority and cannot afford to lose many votes in the House. But in a statement, Ms Pelosi called Mr Biden’s grand proposal a “A visionary, once in a century investment in the American people” and promised to get it through the House as quickly as possible.
Even before the president was due to unveil the package in a speech in Pittsburgh, Democrats were starting to rally to the plan with effusive statements of praise. The measure includes a massive upgrade of bridges, roads, water treatment facilities, green energy programs, housing initiatives and improvements to the country’s electricity grid.
Republicans have started to influence, and especially negatively, Mr. Biden’s proposal to raise taxes for wealthy individuals and businesses.
“What is infrastructure good for when people don’t have jobs?” Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee asked in a statement.
He called Mr Biden’s proposal a “series of job-killing tax hikes,” an almost verbatim resumption of the party’s messaging campaign against former President Barack Obama’s successful efforts to raise taxes. taxes of wealthy families during his second term.
White House officials are hoping to eliminate a few moderate Republicans, in part to theoretically claim the bill enjoys bipartisan support. But GOP agents were already working Wednesday to keep their troops in line.
“When you talk about tax hikes of this magnitude, I don’t see Republican support on the Hill,” Marc Short, a longtime aide to former Vice President Mike Pence, said in an interview.
Mr Short, a veteran of anti-tax campaigns who worked for the Koch Brothers political network, has launched a new group, the Coalition to Protect American Workers, which plans to raise between $ 25 million and $ 50 million from donors. conservatives to fight Mr. Biden’s plan.
He said that “if the White House is successful in gaining Republican support for the bill,” his group “will send messages to these districts.”
It now seems likely that Democrats will have to resort to budget reconciliation, the tactic used to push through Mr Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, which leaves no room for party leaders. for no-shows.
So far, no prominent Republican has offered support for the plan, although many have withheld their criticism, pending official release of its details.
Iowa Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley, who has been at the center of negotiations on similar bills for decades, told a local radio station this week he was waiting to see details of the provisions tax before projecting the proposal. “Tax policy is probably not as important to me as spending policy,” he said.
And Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana, the senior Republican on the House special committee on the climate crisis, told Reuters he was keeping an open mind – although he warned he would not support a large expansion. social protection programs.
“If they just want to wrap a cow pie in a candy shell, then I’m not here,” Graves said.