Biden insists he is working toward bipartisan infrastructure plan

US President Joe Biden speaks about the March jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House

President Biden on Monday rejected the idea that his White House meeting with Republican senators about his multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure package was merely performative — after top aides this weekend said he’s attempting​ to redefine “bipartisanship.”

“I’m not big on window dressing,” the president said in the Oval Office.

With the House and Senate back on Capitol Hill after a two-week Easter recess, negotiations are expected to get underway in earnest on the infrastructure plan. 

Speaking to reporters, Biden said he’s “prepared to negotiate” the plan and how to pay for it.

“But I think we’re going to get  into serious conversation about how to do that,” the president said, adding that the discussions will “get down” to what infrastructure is.

“Some people think that – I’m not suggesting anybody here – but there are a lot of folks saying that the fact that we have millions of people not able to drink water because they’re coming through lead pipes. I think that’s infrastructure. I think broadband is infrastructure. It’s not just roads, bridges, highways etc.,” Biden said.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris huddled with Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) as well as Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska), Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), David Price (D-NC) and Garret Graves (R-La.).

US President Joe Biden speaks about the March jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House
AFP via Getty Images

Allies of President Biden said this weekend that the president is attempting​ to redefine “bipartisanship” to not necessarily mean cooperation between lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Administration officials pointed to the passage of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan in the Senate without a single GOP vote, even though it had support among some Republican voters. 

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They said despite Biden hosting Republican lawmakers at the White House to sell his multi-trillion dollar package, Democrats will ultimately go around them to ensure it is passed.

“If you looked up ‘bipartisan’ in the dictionary, I think it would say support from Republicans and Democrats,” senior adviser Anita Dunn told the Washington Post. “It doesn’t say the Republicans have to be in Congress.”

MIke Donilon, a​lso a​ senior adviser, said “bipartisan” can be defined as “an agenda that unifies the country and appeals across the political spectrum.”

“I think it’s a pretty good definition to say you’re pursuing an agenda that will unite the country, that will bring Democrats and Republicans together across the country,” Donilon told ​the newspaper.

“Presumably, if you have an agenda that is broadly popular with Democrats and Republicans across the country, then you should have elected representatives reflecting that.”

R​epublican​s have reacted to Biden’s claims of reaching across the aisle with skepticism, noting how Democrats used the legislative procedural maneuver reconciliation to pass the $1.9 coronavirus stimulus bill in the Senate without one GOP lawmaker voting for it.

Reconciliation allowed Democrats to get the measure through the 50-50 divided Senate by a simple majority.

One Republican senator missed the vote because of a funeral.  

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