Sen, Rob Portman (R-OH), who is helping to negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure proposal, on Sunday took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) commitment to not bring the bipartisan infrastructure proposal to the floor until the reconciliation package is ready for a vote.
Appearing on ABC News, Portman said he’s “not happy” with Pelosi’s plan.
“The infrastructure bill has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza that she’s talking about in terms of what reconciliation as she called it,” Portman said. “So, no, I’m not happy with what she said because it’s inconsistent with the agreement that we have on a bipartisan basis.”
Asked whether that means Congress may not pass an infrastructure proposal, Portman replied that if Pelosi “has her way, we could.”
“I’m not sure what the future is on reconciliation,” Portman said. “I know that the bipartisan infrastructure package is very popular among the American people and in the United States Congress because it makes sense. We need it badly.”
Portman went on to insist that the negotiations on the infrastructure proposal are truly bipartisan.
“It’s been totally bipartisan from the start. It’s the way we ought to be doing things here in Washington to get stuff done, and I can’t believe the Speaker of the House would be blocking it,” Portman said.
Portman also told ABC News on Sunday that the bipartisan group of infrastructure negotiators are “about 90 percent of the way” into a deal.
“We’re going to legislate the language with colleagues and with staff, and I feel good about getting that done this week,” Portman said, before reiterating that transit funding remains a sticking point in the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
“We’re not getting much response from the Democrats on it,” Portman said. “That’s the one issue that’s outstanding, frankly, at this point. My hope is that we’ll see progress on that yet today.”
Earlier Sunday, Pelosi made clear that she is not backing down on her vow to not hold any vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal until after the Senate passes a larger infrastructure package through reconciliation.
“I won’t put it on the floor until we have the rest of the initiative,” Pelosi said. “I’m enthusiastic about the fact that they will have a bipartisan bill. I hope that it will be soon. But yes, I stand by because the fact is that the President has said that he wants to have a bipartisan bill, and we all do. But that is not the limitation of the vision of the president. He wants to build back better.”
Portman and Pelosi’s comments were issued after a week of infrastructure negotiations hitting snags.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had scheduled a vote last Wednesday to open debate on the bipartisan infrastructure deal. As expected, the procedural vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal failed on Wednesday, with Republicans blocking the chamber from starting debate on the bill.
Schumer also set a deadline for Democrats to finish working out what would be in their $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package by Wednesday — a deadline that wasn’t met as Democrats failed to come to a consensus on what would be in their reconciliation package.
Additionally, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ruffled Democrats’ feathers after threatening to hold the debt ceiling hostage, saying that he doubts Republicans will vote to raise the debt ceiling — a move that revives old tactics of GOP political brinksmanship that Republicans favored during the Obama administration.
Despite the snags, the bipartisan infrastructure group said they expected to be reach a deal by Monday.
But on Thursday Portman signaled that funding towards transit systems remains a sticking point in the bipartisan infrastructure deal — and didn’t rule out the bizarre possibility of leaving out transit funding in the bill primarily focused on physical infrastructure.
However, Democrats have indicated that they are ready to go it alone if the bipartisan infrastructure deal falls flat by plopping the bipartisan “hard” infrastructure bill into the reconciliation bill that requires no GOP support.
Watch Portman’s remark below:
GS: "Does that mean we'll end up with nothing?"
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) July 25, 2021