President Biden took his tentative bipartisan infrastructure sales pitch Tuesday on the road to Wisconsin, where he touted it as the biggest jobs bill since the New Deal.
But the shaky agreement is still under fire from Republican senators such as Tim Scott of South Carolina, who said there’s “no doubt” the president double-crossed the GOP by initially threatening to veto it unless Congress also approves Democrats’ social programs.
Mr. Biden sidestepped the partisan politics surrounding his dual-track infrastructure push while touring a transit center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Instead, the president touted the plan as a “generational investment” that would repair crumbling roads and bridges, replace lead pipes, expand high-speed internet access and bolster energy infrastructure.
“America has always been propelled into the future by landmark national investments,” Mr. Biden said. “This is the answer for good-paying jobs — jobs not just in our biggest cities along our coasts, but in small towns across the country so families can build wealth and opportunity in their rural hometowns.”
The president also highlighted $48.5 billion in the infrastructure plan for public transit, saying it will both reduce commute times and emissions.
“More transit options mean more people can access good jobs,” Mr. Biden said.
A variety of funding sources will fuel the $973 billion plan, which includes more than $500 billion in new spending over the next five years. The administration will redirect unused federal unemployment money from states that ended their COVID-19 relief programs, and close tax gaps.
Americans earning less than $400,000 will not have their taxes raised, and the federal gas tax won’t be increased, according to the plan. Both hikes were part of an initial proposal that also sought more infrastructure spending.
During his speech in Wisconsin, Mr. Biden still pushed for an increase in taxes on those earning more than $400,000 and urged Congress to increase the corporate tax rate to pay for his plans.
“It’s time to give regular people a tax break,” the president said.
A group of bipartisan senators and Mr. Biden struck a deal last week, but the deal nearly collapsed after the president said he would veto the compromise bill unless Congress also passes a separate bill with Democratic spending priorities.
After GOP lawmakers erupted at the veto threat, Mr. Biden walked back his comments Saturday, saying he would sign the infrastructure bill if it passed on its own.
Still, Republican lawmakers say they feel betrayed by Mr. Biden‘s flip-flopping on his own deal.
“My understanding is that you can’t trust what the president says on infrastructure,” Mr. Scott told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “And when that is the case, nothing else quite matters. It is wrong. It is not consistent with any deal that was ever on the table as far as I know.”
Even former President Donald Trump weighed in, accusing Republican senators of being duped by the Biden administration.
“Senators go back and forth to the White House and continually get nothing for infrastructure or anything else,” he said in a statement. “When will they learn that they are being played with, and used by, the Radical Left — and only bad things can happen.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the president will continue to fight for both bills, including the second measure which includes money to expand health care, combat climate change and expand medical care for older adults and people with disabilities.
Mr. Biden has vowed to pass the second bill through budget reconciliation, a process that would enable Senate Democrats to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass the measure with a simple majority.