joe biden kyrsten sinema

Biden Announces Watered-Down Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal That Sacrifices Progressive Agenda

This compromise still needs to find 5 Republicans willing to vote for it.

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President Joe Biden has announced a bipartisan deal on the long-awaited infrastructure bill. The agreement was negotiated by 5 Republican senators—Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah)—and 5 Democratic senators—Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), along with several White House officials.

Appearing in the White House driveway, Biden said, “We all agree that none of us got all we wanted. I clearly didn’t get all I wanted, they gave more than I think maybe what they were planning to give in the first place … But this reminds me of the days when we used to get an awful lot done up in the United States Congress,” adding “Bipartisan deals mean compromise.” I guess bipartisanship is something only the whitest, most conservative democrats get a say in.

The negotiations ultimately settled on an investment of $1.2 trillion over eight years, with $559 billion in new spending. The funding will go toward narrowly defined infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, airports, and waterways. Its cost would be offset by a variety of revenue sources, but would not include any tax hikes on corporations or the wealthy.

This is a far cry from the ambitious American Families Plan that Biden set forth just months ago, a $1.8 trillion federal investment in education, child care, elder care, and paid family leave, in addition to traditional infrastructure work like rebuilding roads and bridges. Biden’s plan also included a huge investment in green energy and two free years of community college.

These are all very popular initiatives that would undoubtedly make life better for Americans. But thanks to the obstinacy of one Joe Manchin (and Kyrsten Sinema), Biden is unable to pass the package he originally pitched. Progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren have shared their frustration with the compromise:

And even though this bipartisan deal has been reached, Republicans still need to find 5 more Republican votes to pass the bill on the 60 vote threshold. We’ll see whether Republicans are actually interested in bipartisanship (spoiler alert: they aren’t) or if this will just be Mitch McConnell once again yanking the football when senate Dems line up to kick it.

This devotion to “bipartisanship” at the expense of popular action items does not bode well for the Democrats in 2022. Voters are much more concerned with tangible benefits than the talking point that is bipartisanship. And it’s especially frustrating for Democrats who campaigned so tirelessly in 2020 to attain a majority in the House, Senate, and White House only to still see our grand plans held hostage by Republicans. Sure, something is better than nothing, but just once I wish Democrats could come together to actually make things happen for the people they represent.

(via CNN, image: screencap/The Hill)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.