WASHINGTON – A key U.S. Republican lawmaker said Sunday he takes President Joe Biden at his word that he has no intention of vetoing a $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure Biden agreed to last week even though initially the U.S. leader said he would reject it if Congress does not also approve social spending legislation.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the five Republican centrists who negotiated the infrastructure package with Biden to repair the country’s deteriorating roads and bridges, told CNN, “I do trust the president” to sign the funding measure if Congress approves it alone in the coming months.
Biden created confusion about his support for the politically bipartisan roads-and-bridges bill by first saying Thursday he had agreed to the deal with the handful of opposition lawmakers. Shortly after, Biden said he would veto it if it was not passed by Congress in tandem with trillions more in spending on expanding the social safety for U.S. families and advancing the use of clean energy.
On Saturday, Biden said that his comments “created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent.”
Biden said he hopes Congress approves both pieces of legislation, even though he well understands Republicans will oppose the social safety net spending, with that legislation likely only garnering support from Democrats in the politically divided Congress.
“So, to be clear: our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan and other proposals in tandem,” Biden said. “We will let the American people—and the Congress—decide.”
Romney said, “We Republicans are saying, ‘Absolutely, no,’ to what Democrats are calling the “human infrastructure” spending.
“Don’t raise taxes; fix the (roads and bridges) infrastructure,” Romney said. “Get it done.”
But Romney added, “I think [Biden] is making a huge mistake” with the social spending bill. “We’re not going to sign up for a multi-trillion-dollar bill.”
Another of the Republicans who negotiated the infrastructure package with Biden, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” show that the lawmakers who negotiated with Biden had been assured it would not be linked with the Democratic package on spending to benefit families.
“Why is that important?” Cassidy said. “First, there’s bipartisan opposition to the non-hard infrastructure portion of [the Democrats’] bill. Bipartisan in both chambers, that’s Number One. Number Two, Republicans think that portion is bad for our country. We have an inflation rate that is higher than it’s been in quite some time. And that bill would make it higher.”
“This infrastructure bill is good for America, for all Americans,” Cassidy said. “It is going to make us more productive; it’s going to create lots of jobs.”
Many Democrats, especially progressives, argue that aggressively combating climate change and expanding America’s social safety net are just as important as repairing physical infrastructure. Biden proposed raising taxes on some U.S. corporations to pay for an initial infrastructure plan of about $2 trillion.