Progressives beg Biden not to take the GOP bait on 'bipartisanship'

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal late Thursday argued that President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers should forge ahead with an ambitious infrastructure package without attempting to cater to the minority GOP, a party the Washington Democrat said has no interest in good-faith negotiations or combating the climate crisis.

"Let's not water down a bill for a party that's not actually interested in bipartisanship or wait for Republicans to have some awakening on climate change," said Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "Let's move with the urgency and boldness that this moment calls for."

Jayapal's message came hours after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted that Biden's roughly $2.3 trillion infrastructure and climate package "is not going to get support from our side," pointing specifically to the plan's proposed rollback of the GOP's 2017 corporate tax cuts.

Republican lawmakers made clear they would object to Biden's proposal before he even released it, but the president still appears to be holding out some hope for a bipartisan package as he faces pressure from progressives to invest much more in revamping the nation's decaying infrastructure and transitioning the U.S. energy system away from fossil fuels.

"I'm going to bring Republicans into the Oval Office; listen to them, what they have to say; and be open to other ideas," Biden said in a speech Wednesday. "We'll have a good-faith negotiation with any Republican who wants to help get this done. But we have to get it done."

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas.), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, quickly rejected Biden's Oval Office invite as "disingenuous."

As the Washington Post reported, Biden "phoned McConnell on Tuesday to brief him on the details before the White House unveiled the infrastructure plan." A day later, McConnell dismissed the proposal as a "Trojan horse for far-left demands."

With the GOP leaving little doubt about its plans to stand in the way of a package whose broad outlines are extremely popular with the American public—including 50% of self-identified Republicans—progressives are urging the Biden administration and congressional Democrats to go it alone, either by using budget reconciliation or eliminating the Senate filibuster.

"We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our infrastructure, climate, communities, and people," Jayapal said Thursday. "Now is the time to go big."