The US Senate on Wednesday declined to initiate consideration of the $ 1,200 billion infrastructure investment plan at this stage, a centerpiece of Joe Biden’s strategy, who nevertheless was optimistic about the rest of the parliamentary procedure.
• Read also: Biden in Ohio: We’d Like To Believe It
• Read also: US border closure extended for another month
• Read also: Former Comcast CEO Biden Selected Ambassador to Canada
Republican elected officials, who have a blocking minority, opposed the opening of parliamentary debate during the first test of this gigantic plan, very dear to the Democratic president.
Almost a month ago, the Democratic president announced that he had come to an agreement with elected officials of both parties to invest this significant amount over eight years in roads, airports, water networks or broadband Internet.
Traveling Wednesday to Cincinnati, a city in Ohio in the northeastern United States, Joe Biden reminded opposition officials of this informal agreement: “I come from tradition (…) when we shake hands and we keep our word “, – he said.
“Yes !” he responded to a CNN reporter who questioned him during a public debate to see if he believed in a positive vote next Monday to open a debate on the details of his plan.
“And we will fix your damn bridge!” he said with laughter and applause. He was referring to infrastructure very close to Cincinnati, the Brent Spence Bridge, which has been under debate for years and is considered a symbol of aging American infrastructure.
Not a lot of leverage
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer wanted to begin parliamentary work on Wednesday.
But the Republicans considered the move a hasty one. “We need more time,” Sen. Todd Young told AFP.
Debates have been raging over the means to finance these spending, as Republicans have rejected a device that could strengthen the fight against tax evasion.
Even if the vote fails, the text should be preserved. 22 negotiators from the two sides assured in a statement that they “have made significant progress and are ready for an agreement.”
One of them, the moderate Republican Mitt Romney, even mentioned the date next Monday for the completion of his work.
In addition to “classic” infrastructure, for which he is more likely to receive Republican votes, President Joe Biden wants massive investments in clean energy, health care or education.
Because of Republican resistance to further spending in these areas, Democrats are willing to move independently on a parallel plan that is currently valued at $ 3.5 trillion.
To do this, they intend to use a procedure specific to budget bills, which allows to reduce to 50 out of 100 the number of votes required to pass a text in the Senate (versus 60 otherwise).
However, they will not be able to afford a single desertion, which remains uncertain given the varying vulnerabilities of their ranks. “We don’t have much leverage,” admitted Senator Bernie Sanders, an American leftist.
“We cannot afford not to make these investments,” Joe Biden said on Friday during his trip to Congress.