Democratic leaders in Congress say they are close to reaching a compromise on a pared-down version of a massive ‘human infrastructure’ bill containing the core elements of President Biden’s domestic agenda. It’s believed the package’s $3.5 trillion price tag (over ten years) has been cut to at least $2 trillion and could go lower still before it’s finalized.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Sunday she intends to hold votes on the President’s Build Back Better bill and a bipartisan $1 trillion traditional infrastructure bill this week. Federal highway funding runs out at the end of the month.
"I think we're pretty much there now," Rep. Pelosi said on CNN's "State of the Union.”
Meanwhile, President Biden had what the White House called a “productive meeting” Sunday morning with fellow Democrats Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin, who along with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, has been withholding support for the bill until significant cuts are made and certain tax measures removed.
With no support indicated from any Republicans, the President will need yes votes from every Democrat in the Senate and all but three in the House in order for the bill to get to his desk.
The GOP cites numerous reasons for opposing the legislation — mostly, they say, it’s the high cost and that it won’t be paid for as they claim. But many also complain about the programs it would, which many claim, are nothing short of socialism.
Oklahoma Congressman Kevin Hern says the bill is a socialist wish list and doesn’t believe they are truly going to lower the cost to American taxpayers.
“And what President Biden said, I think, really nails it down,” said Hern (R-OK1). “He said, let’s get this passed and then we’ll force our future congresses to fund it to its fullest, so they already know this is just a gimmick to get it passed so that we can fund it in the future.”
Third District Congressman Frank Lucas says he’s heard similar talk that Democrats may be trying to lower the cost, not by actually removing programs from the bill, but by shortening their effective time frame.
“We need to prioritize our resources,” said Lucas (R-OK3), “if there are things that need to be done, we need to do it and we need to do it for real.”
Reports suggest various initiatives that were part of the original proposal have in fact been reduced or removed, such as free community college.
As for the physical infrastructure bill, it’s not clear how the state’s House delegation will vote on that. Numerous Republicans did vote for it when it passed out of the Senate in August, but Oklahoma’s two Senators we’re not among them.