Congressional Update

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) plan to advance President Biden’s economic agenda on dual tracks hit roadblocks Thursday as moderate Democrats said they are still working on the details of a bipartisan infrastructure plan.

On Tuesday, the new Senate bipartisan infrastructure working group announced the latest compromise proposal framework, a $1 trillion proposal focused on physical infrastructure with $579 billion in new spending. Meanwhile, some of the same Democrats balked at a $6 trillion plan proposed by Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with the aim of passing the rest of Biden’s jobs and family proposals as well as other priorities via the fast-track budget process known as reconciliation to bypass Republican opposition.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who is part of the bipartisan group working on the infrastructure compromise, said that even though 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats back the general framework, work remains on agreeing to specifics and ensuring they capture as many Senate Democrat votes as possible.

Schumer has developed a two-track strategy in response to competing pressures from moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for a bipartisan infrastructure deal and to resistance from progressives who want a larger budget package later. Manchin has refused to commit to doing a subsequent package.

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Manchin pressed Energy Secretary Granholm on the Department’s funding request for hydrogen technology. “Hydrogen has the potential for decarbonizing virtually all carbon intensive sectors of our economy,” he said. “I have grave concerns, I really do have great concerns, about our country going to the EVs. This is totally dependent on foreign supply chains.”

Sec. Granholm pivoted in our responses by emphasizing the Administration’s push for increased investment in the U.S. critical minerals supply chain, which will allow the U.S. to produce many EV component parts domestically.

While bipartisan infrastructure hang in the balance, the Administration is adamant that he continues to want a bipartisan package. White House counselor Steve Ricchetti told House Democrats on Tuesday that the White House will reevaluate whether a deal is possible in 10 days.

Nonetheless, many in Washington are pessimistic on the prospects of a bipartisan infrastructure package and believe Democrats will move partisan legislation via reconciliation. However, Democrats must secure all 50 votes to pass legislation via reconciliation and Sen. Manchin’s comments are indicative of how far Democrats can push for EV funding while also securing his critical vote.

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