House Democrats plan to advance a major piece of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan this week as he remains far apart from Republicans on a broader deal.
Biden, meanwhile, will head to Europe this week on his first overseas trip since taking office. His stops will include a meeting Thursday with British Prime Minster Boris Johnson and the G7 Summit, which starts Friday in Cornwall, a green technology center.
During the summit, Biden “will reinforce our commitment to multilateralism, work to advance key U.S. policy priorities on public health, economic recovery, and climate change, and demonstrate solidarity and shared values among major democracies,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. In addition to the UK, the other G7 countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
There appears to be little chance of an infrastructure deal before Biden leaves Washington. However, a key Democrat in the 50-50 Senate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, told Fox News Sunday he was still "very confident" there would eventually be a bipartisan agreement.
Biden talked on Friday with West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who offered to increase the previous GOP proposal of $928 billion by another $50 billion. The GOP proposal includes about $300 million in new spending versus Biden's $1 trillion.
Biden and Capito agreed to talk again on Monday, but Psaki said Biden told the senator that the latest proposal “did not meet his objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis, and create new jobs.”
Biden also told Capito “he would continue to engage a number of Senators in both parties in the hopes of achieving a more substantial package,” Psaki said.
Psaki had told reporters ahead of Friday’s conversation the White House would “keep a range of pathways open to move these bold ideas forward.”
Capito’s office issued a brief statement confirming that she had talked to the president on Friday and had agreed to talk again Monday.
In the Fox News Sunday interview, Manchin called for patience with the negotiations. "They’re working hard trying to find a compromise. They’ve come a long way. … We’ve got to wait to see the outcome," he said.
Without Manchin's support, Democrats would likely be unable to move a partisan infrastructure bill through the Senate, even through the budget reconciliation process. Reconciliation bills can pass the Senate with a simple majority vote.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will meet Wednesday to consider a $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill that is intended to enact a large part of Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
The draft bill’s $343 billion in funding for roads and bridges earmarks $1 billion for grants to repair or replace bridges in rural areas. The bill also allows 15% of the funding allocated to rural areas to be used for local roads, including farm-to-market roads.
“The benefits of transformative investments in our infrastructure are far-ranging: we can create and sustain good-paying jobs, many of which don’t require a college degree, restore our global competitiveness, tackle climate change head-on, and improve the lives of all Americans through modern infrastructure that emphasizes mobility and access, and spurs our country’s long-term economic growth,” said the committee's chairman, Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.
Biden will be in Europe through next week, when he is scheduled to meet June 16 with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Psaki said Biden will press Putin on the recent ransomware attacks, which last week took down operations of meatpacking giant JBS USA.
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):
Monday, June 7
9 a.m. - Agri-Pulse hosts webinar Sustainability in Agriculture: Moving from promise to practice.
4 p.m. - USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, June 8
10 a.m. - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning to be administrator of the Bureau of Land Management.
10 a.m. - Senate Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, 192 Dirksen.
2:15 p.m. - Senate Banking Committee hearing, “Rural Transit: Opportunities and Challenges for Connecting Communities.”
Wednesday, June 9
10 a.m. - Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, “PFAS: the View from Affected Citizens and States,” 301 Russell.
10 a.m. - Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with EPA Administrator Michael Regan, 138 Dirksen.
Noon - House Education and Labor Committee hearing with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.
Thursday, June 10
8:30 a.m. - USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
10 a.m. - Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Food and Drug Administration, 124 Dirksen.
Friday, June 11
For more news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com