President Joe Biden’s latest leap into the Senate’s up-and-down efforts to clinch a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure deal comes with even more at stake than his coveted plans for boosting road, rail and other public works projects. The outcome of the infrastructure bargaining, which for weeks has encountered one snag after another, will impact what could be the crown jewel of his legacy.
That would be his hopes for a subsequent $3.5 trillion federal infusion for families’ education and health care costs, a Medicare expansion and efforts to curb climate change. Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will need support from every Democratic moderate and progressive to push the $3.5 trillion bill through the 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
If the infrastructure talks implode, it may be harder for moderates — who rank its projects as their top priority — to back the follow-up $3.5 trillion plan, which is already making them wince because of its price tag and likely tax boosts on the wealthy and corporations. “I would say that if the bipartisan infrastructure bill falls apart, everything falls apart,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, one of his chamber’s most conservative Democrats, warned reporters this week.