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White House ready to “fight hard” for families plan, top Biden aide says

▶ Watch Video: Cedric Richmond says White House ready to “fight hard” for families plan

Washington — White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond said Sunday that the Biden administration expects to “fight hard” for a larger spending package that will encompass many of President Biden’s infrastructure priorities after a deal on a more targeted, bipartisan package was reached last week.

“Where Democrats and Republicans can agree, we should agree, move on, create progress for the American people,” Richmond said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “And where we don’t agree, we can fight and we can fight hard. And that’s what we expect to do on American Families Plan. But we also expect to win.”

Standing alongside a group of 10 Senate Republicans and Democrats at the White House on Thursday, Mr. Biden announced a deal had been reached on a $1 trillion proposal focusing on “traditional” infrastructure like roads, bridges, railways and broadband. 

But the mood among Senate Republicans quickly soured after the president later suggested he would only accept the bipartisan legislation if a more sweeping measure expected to pass with only Democratic support also makes it to his desk. The second bill, which will be passed through the process known as budget reconciliation, would include the president’s priorities on child care, education and health care, known as the American Families Plan.

Amid the backlash from Republicans, Mr. Biden issued a statement Saturday attempting to clear up confusion over how he planned to approach the two bills, reiterating he was not issuing a veto threat on the bipartisan framework.

“To be clear: our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan and other proposals in tandem. We will let the American people — and the Congress — decide,” the president said.

Richmond said the White House expects the bipartisan infrastructure plan will garner more than 60 votes in the evenly divided Senate, which would overcome a filibuster and allow the measure to proceed. 

In addition to receiving “overwhelming” support from Democrats, Richmond said, Republicans appear to be “standing by the deal.”

“The president’s going to honor his word and we’re going to hope that they’re going to honor their word. But we would hope that more come along, because this is historic. It is important,” he said. “We have crumbling bridges and roads all around this country and we have to do something about it.”

Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana who is part of the group of 10 senators who negotiated the bipartisan infrastructure deal, agreed the legislation will surpass the crucial 60-vote threshold, but acknowledged the weeks leading up to its passage could be rocky.

“I think we’re going to get a lot more than five more Republicans. And I think we’re also going to see bumps in the road as this goes forward through the process,” he said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “You know, every week there’s probably going to be another problem that arises. We’ll work through those problems just like we work through them in our gang of 10 folks. And I think we’ll get good support from both sides of the aisle. I think we’ll get far more than 60 votes. In the end, we’ll get this through the Senate.”

Still, some Senate Democrats have said they will oppose the bipartisan package if it does not include environmental provisions that were part of Mr. Biden’s original, sweeping $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan

Tester said the agreed-upon deal does include some environmental policies, but said the larger reconciliation bill could also include environmental initiatives. 

“I think we need to make common sense steps forward to deal with climate. And there has to be a transition. Anybody will tell you that. You just can’t shut off the spigot. You have to move forward in a commonsense way, so this economy continues to grow, but also deal with the climate issue,” he said.


Tester predicts “far more than 60 votes” for …

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