President Joe Biden may finally be nearing the bipartisan win he’s long yearned for but that some in his party say is politically unnecessary and may ultimately prove fleeting.
Despite a failed vote on Wednesday to advance the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal, White House negotiators have been working aggressively to settle disagreements with GOP senators.
The White House supported Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s move to force that vote, viewing it as necessary for kicking negotiations into higher gear. As one White House official put it, the president knows when to give Democratic leaders space to manage their caucus.
The move angered Republican negotiators. But it didn’t drive them away. By Wednesday afternoon, 10 GOP Senators had signed onto a bipartisan statement saying they were prepared to vote to break a filibuster in a matter of days. Later that night, Biden credited Sen. Rob Portman, (R-Ohio), for his work in negotiations, saying at a CNN town hall in Cincinnati that he takes Republicans at their word and believes a deal with them would come together.
“This process is complicated, it’s tricky, but it speaks to who this president is,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) “He wants to bend over backwards to get a bipartisan agreement.”
For weeks, Biden’s pledge to find a bipartisan compromise appeared on life-support. Early negotiations with Senate Republicans stalled and Democrats began openly fretting that the White House was being strung along by the opposition. Through it all, the president’s aides projected calm to the point of it becoming a mantra inside the White House: Settle down. Take a breath. We’re not giving up on it.
If a deal on the massive bill materializes next week, as several senators involved in talks are suggesting, it would represent the most significant validation to date of Biden’s commitment to bipartisanship. It would also support his claims that he possesses a unique congressional acumen. [Continue reading…]