Can Democrats and Republicans Work Together?
In recent months, Democrats and Republicans have been working on a major infrastructure bill, one which will likely define bipartisanship for the near future. What’s in it, and why does it matter?
Over the past decade, politics seems to have become more and more polarizing: gridlock has become far too common and happens to be the result of almost every controversial vote. However, after Joe Biden made his two-and-a-half trillion dollar proposal earlier this year, Republicans and Democrats are a few amendments away from voting on (and likely passing) a smaller, $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that would renew funding for many projects both parties have been clamoring for, of which funding for roads and bridges, electric vehicles, broadband upgrades, and renovating rail and air travel remain the most prominent, notably in exchange for a $256 billion increase in the deficit for the next ten years.
While former President Trump has clearly set himself against the bill, criticizing the President, a number of Senators from both parties, and the bill itself, it remains unclear whether his words will have any effect on the ultimate passing of the bill. However, the implications of this bill go far beyond infrastructure and clue to how bipartisanship could still occur under Biden’s presidency.
What Does the Bill Mean?
Since the start of the Biden administration, little headway has been made with regards to climate change, immigration, or major healthcare reform. It seems as if the “bipartisanship” that Biden ran on hasn’t delivered many results. But now, by breaking the filibuster for this infrastructure bill, it might signal new changes. Lisa Murkowski, the moderate conservative from Alaska, cited that, while her state had much to gain from the bill, it was significant to unite Senators under an administration that has been polarizing for both parties. And while she does have many reasons to back the bill, at a moment of such intense partisanship, there’s reason to believe that she’d be incentivized to do the opposite.
However fleeting it is, though, it is imperative to note that Mitch McConnell, who said at the beginning of Biden’s term that he was completely against the President’s agenda, is allowing the White House this victory. Nonetheless, Republicans and Democrats believe they are serving their own constituency’s, in voting to pass this bill.
What Do the Progressives Want?
This bill comes as a compromise, with conservatives seeing it as overkill and liberals viewing it as the administration’s lack of willingness to support a progressive agenda.
Recently, AOC came out against her moderate colleagues with reservations about Biden’s more aggressive, $3.5 trillion bill on “human infrastructure,” aimed at providing increased opportunities for childcare, education, and healthcare, all objectives Republicans have vowed to block. Democrats are still hopeful that they’ll drum up enough votes for it later that fall. But AOC’s not far off from a number of progressives.
On the other side of the Democratic Party, while Joe Manchin (D-WV) remains committed to passing some type of infrastructure legislation, he has pointed out that the more liberal measures for environmental remediation will have to pass through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which he chairs. As a Senator from coal country, some of those measures are likely to fall flat without his support, especially combined with the fact that a 50–50 tie plus Kamala Harris’s tiebreaker will likely be necessary.
Regardless of the banter from both sides of the party, both the progressive and more moderate wings of the Democratic party have enough votes to block this passing, which would be a self-inflicted injury on behalf of all Democrats to the Biden administration. Looking forward, if this bill passes, Biden will have to continue working with Republicans to pass legislation, or the legislative agenda he campaigned on won’t support Democrats for another term.