- The Washington Times - Friday, July 30, 2021

Former President Donald Trump ratcheted up the pressure Friday on Senate Republicans to oppose President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal, arguing its passage would be a “big win” for Democrats.

Mr. Trump, who many still view as the leader of the Republican Party, urged lawmakers to oppose the deal because Democratic leaders are linking it to a broader $3.5 trillion social-welfare bill.

“The RINOs in the Senate are delivering a big win by caving to the radical Democrats on infrastructure,” Mr. Trump said in a statement, using the acronym for Republicans In Name Only. “Once they pass this bill out of the Senate, it will sit in the House until they get steamrolled by the biggest government expansion in a generation.”  

Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, have pledged not to act on the infrastructure package until the Senate passes the $3.5 trillion legislation.

The bigger legislation contains a slew of liberal priorities, including health care, climate change, and anti-poverty initiatives. Democrats also plan to push for amnesty for illegal immigrants and new mandates phasing out fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, from the electrical grid.

Because those provisions are unlikely to garner GOP support, Democrats plan to pass it along party lines via budget reconciliation. The process allows some spending and tax measures to avoid the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold, and to pass with 51 votes.

Moderate Democrats on the fence about reconciliation, such as Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, say they will only back the multi-trillion-dollar package upon assurances that the smaller infrastructure deal will pass.

“I would say if the bipartisan infrastructure deal falls apart, everything falls apart. Both of them are extremely important,” Mr. Manchin said recently. “When one falls apart, how do you move the other one?”

Mr. Trump, however, says that Democrats are holding the infrastructure package hostage to secure passage of their priorities.

“Infrastructure is just a ‘carrot’ for a massive socialist expansion,” said Mr. Trump. “Why are RINOs so desperate to push bad, radical leftist policies? And at the same time give a big win to the Democrats.”

Rather than allow Democrats to pass their agenda, the former president argues that GOP lawmakers should pull support for the infrastructure deal.

Doing so would doom the infrastructure measure. Bipartisan support is vital, since the package will require the votes of at least 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster within the evenly split Senate.

Such a coalition was on display Wednesday when the Senate voted to advance the infrastructure package just hours after it was finalized. Seventeen Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, crossed over to vote for the deal.  

Mr. McConnell, who has yet to announce if he will back the final passage of the deal, said earlier this week he doesn’t see the infrastructure deal and the reconciliation package as linked.

“I don’t care what Nancy Pelosi says, in the Senate, they’re two separate proposals,” he said on Fox News.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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