Time’s Running Out for Infrastructure Deal, Buttigieg Says
(Bloomberg) -- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested time is running out for Republicans to reach a deal with the Biden administration on infrastructure spending before Democrats go it alone.
“The president keeps saying inaction is not an option. And time is not unlimited here,” Buttigieg said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” one of three appearances on Sunday talk shows.
The two sides have been negotiating over President Joe Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan to boost spending on traditional infrastructure as well on the so-called caring economy. Biden has suggested a $1.7 trillion package, less than his original proposal, but Republicans are pushing for a smaller deal.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginia Republican involved in the negotiations, said there’s momentum “building” toward a bipartisan deal and that Biden has expressed his desire for it numerous times.
“We’re edging toward one another,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But if in the end there’s no deal, it won’t be for a lack of effort.”
She said the two sides are still trying to agree on a “core, solid definition” of infrastructure, and that the bill should focus on traditional physical infrastructure -- like fixing roads, bridges and waterways -- as well as broadband.
‘Holding You Back’
Social or human infrastructure are “great things to talk about, but not part of a core physical infrastructure package.”
Also on Fox, Buttigieg defended the inclusion of elements beyond traditional infrastructure. Home health care and long-term care are funded at $400 billion in Biden’s plan.
“We think of it as infrastructure because infrastructure is the foundation that lets people participate in the economy,” Buttigieg said of funding for things like elder care.
“Somehow we’re one of the only developed countries that doesn’t take care of this. That’s holding you back the same way it holds you back if you don’t have a road or bridge to get to where you want to go,” he said.
On CNN Buttigieg said talks with Republicans have been “healthy” but that time is running out to come to an agreement before Congress returns June 7.
Fish or Cut Bait
“We are getting pretty close to a fish-or-cut bait moment, but I will tell you that on the fishing side of things, the negotiations have been healthy,” he said. “I just want to emphasize, we really are talking about the next few days.”
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said it was time for Democrats to pass Biden’s broader infrastructure plan, even without Republican support, through a budget maneuver that requires only simple majority in the Senate.
“I don’t think there’s necessarily good will behind all negotiations,” Gillibrand said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Waiting any longer for Republicans to do the right thing is a misstep. I would go forward,” she said.
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