Biden stands by 'two-track' bill process, despite Republican dismay

·2-min read
U.S. President Biden U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, the White House said Friday, and reiterated his support for a "two-track" legislation process that includes a second reconciliation bill.

"The President reiterated strong support for both the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill and a reconciliation bill containing the American Families Plan moving forward on a two-track system, as he said yesterday when meeting the press with the bipartisan group of ten Senators," the White House said in a statement.

After House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said early on Thursday her chamber would not vote on the first infrastructure package unless the second reconciliation bill passed the Senate, Biden publicly seconded the idea.

"I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution," Biden told reporters on Thursday. "But if only one comes to me, I'm not signing it. It's in tandem."

Some Republicans in Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have objected to linking the two bills together, and accused Biden of bad-faith negotiations.

A Republican source familiar with Thursday's White House meeting said the topic of reconciliation came up only briefly and without administration pressure on either the Republican or Democratic lawmakers present.

Republicans later said they felt blindsided by Biden's comment that he would not sign the bipartisan legislation alone and that the measure would have to move in tandem with reconciliation.

One Republican aide said lawmakers had expected partisan tactics from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi but that Biden's open involvement was over the top, after what had appeared to be good faith negotiations.

"You have all heard the president say multiple times publicly that he wanted to move these bills forward in parallel paths, and that's exactly what's happening," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. "That hasn't been a secret, he hasn't said it quietly. He has hasn't even whispered it. He said it very much aloud."

"The leaders in the House and the Senate are going to determine the sequencing, the timeline, and he looks forward to signing both pieces of legislation," she said.

(Reporting by Heather Timmons, David Morgan and Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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