WASHINGTON D.C. – As Democratic leaders look to get their party on the same page by the end of the month in order to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal and social spending package, it’s becoming clear some priorities may have to hit the cutting room floor.
The votes were called off last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Progressives threatened to vote ‘no’ on infrastructure if the social spending package wasn’t included. Meanwhile, moderate Dems like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are reluctant to back the social spending bill’s $3.5 trillion price tag.
Rep. Peter Welch said because any single senator could bring the legislation down, it inevitably means there will have to be cuts.
“We’re going to have to figure out how to best make adjustments but preserve the goal of these programs,” Rep. Welch said.
He said that’ll be a challenge, considering the importance of the issues at hand – childcare, healthcare climate change and paid medical leave to name a few.
“The challenge we have is that we have to do it in the face of a decision by Senator [Mitch] McConnell to oppose anything and everything no matter what, so there’s a Republican opposition that’s intending to fight for failure, and that means all the votes have to come from Democrats,” Rep. Welch said.
Despite the division in D.C., there’s broad bipartisan support across the nation for infrastructure. Joe Flynn, Vermont Secretary of Transportation, said if the state receives the nearly $2 billion it’s supposed to from the deal, it would be a once-in-a-century opportunity.
“If it passes as currently designed over a period of five years, it just has an opportunity to put a degree of work together that it would’ve taken perhaps decades to achieve,” Flynn said. “Not that we’re going to do it all at once, but the point is we can program that, we can have projects ready to go for much more of that infrastructure than we otherwise would have.”
From neglected roads to outdated wastewater and energy systems, each of Vermont’s 237 municipalities would stand to gain something from the deal, and this week they’ll give details on the kind of needs that might be addressed.
Ted Brady, Executive Director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, said Infrastructure will take center stage at the group’s annual Town Fair event on Wednesday.
“It’s the single largest gathering of municipal officials to happen in the state each year,” Brady said. “It’ll be a great opportunity to go deeper into this, to talk about the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill and really better understand what it means for Vermont towns and cities.”
Rep. Welch was reportedly going to vote in favor of the Infrastructure Deal last week before talks fell through and Speaker Pelosi delayed the vote.