"So, we are proceeding now as to reconciliation instructions, we're assuming right now that everything will be done by reconciliation" House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., stated Tuesday. He was referring to Biden's American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan, which combined total about $4 trillion.
"So that doesn't preclude a bipartisan agreement," Yarmuth continued. Whatever is in the bipartisan agreement would simply be taken out of the broader reconciliation effort, Yarmuth said. But, he emphasized, Democrats are "assuming everything" will have to be done through reconciliation.
The comments signal that even as negotiations continue between the White House and a bipartisan group of senators on a potential infrastructure bill, Democrats have lost patience. Democrats are not ready to declare talks with Republicans dead, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., noted Tuesday. But they are going to act on "two tracks" to get the Biden agenda through Congress.
"One track is bipartisan and the second track pulls in other elements of Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, which will be considered even if it doesn't have bipartisan support," Schumer stated.
"Both are moving forward," Schumer added. The majority leader revealed plans to meet Wednesday with Senate Budget Committee Democrats to give them instructions on how reconciliation should proceed. He added that Democrats hope to get both reconciliation and the possible bipartisan bill done in July.
House Democratic Conference Vice Chair Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., also said Democrats are happy to move ahead with or without Republicans — but that they intend to enact all of Biden's agenda. He noted that top Biden adviser Steve Ricchetti said the White House is giving bipartisan efforts between seven and 10 days before abandoning them totally.
"We will operate under the assumption that Republicans will work with us in good faith but we will carry on the business of making sure that we pass good policy, and that could be through other means," Aguilar said.
Some Democrats, however, are warning leaders in their party that bipartisanship is a "trap" and promising to withhold their votes for a bipartisan infrastructure deal if they don't get guarantees climate change will be addressed in a reconciliation package.
Republicans, meanwhile, claimed they are not surprised about Democrats' push to force through Biden's massive spending proposals on party lines, which will begin in earnest with Schumer's meeting with Budget Committee Democrats Wednesday. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared to say he is still open to a possible deal on infrastructure, even if Republicans are expected to try to block nearly everything else Democrats try to pass.
"We'd like to find common ground with the other side," House Democratic Conference Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said. "But if the obstructionists prevail… then we are going to have to proceed to get it done through the vehicle that is available to us through reconciliation."