The White House has revealed the lawmakers it has invited to meet with President Biden and Vice President Harris Monday on their $2 trillion infrastructure package.
Biden and Harris will sit down with Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wa.), as well as Reps. Don Young (R-Ak.), Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), David Price (D-NC) and Garret Graves (R-La.), the White House said Sunday.
Both Fischer and Young have previously introduced infrastructure legislation.
Congress starts up again this week following a two-week recess, with the Senate returning Monday and the House on Tuesday, allowing negotiations to kick off on Biden’s mammoth proposal.
The two-part “Build Back Better” proposal, a centerpiece of Biden’s post-COVID campaign message, will be split into two packages for Congress to pass.
The first focuses on infrastructure, while the second will be aimed at funding Democrats’ domestic policy platform.
In order to pay for the package, the federal government would impose a slew of new taxes, the administration revealed alongside the plan last month.
Members of the Biden administration have said that unlike the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which passed on a party-line vote, the president is willing to negotiate on this bill.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally who sits in his former Senate seat, told Punchbowl News last week that Republicans had until the end of May to negotiate provisions on the bill and even predicted that the final product would be smaller.
“I believe that President Biden is open to spending the next month negotiating what the possibility is,” he told the outlet.
Wicker, one of the senators meeting Biden Monday, panned the infrastructure package as it’s currently written during an interview Sunday.
“You’ve got a proposal here of the $2.3 trillion, 70 percent of which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called infrastructure,” the Mississippi senator said told ABC’s “This Week. “That’s on top of $1.9 trillion a few weeks ago, most of which is not COVID-19 related.”
How Biden will react to hearing those complaints in person remains to be seen, but his administration has signaled it will move forward without bipartisan support, if necessary.
Biden was elected on a platform of unity and bipartisanship and entered the White House as a three-decade veteran of the Senate, where he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) developed a personal friendship.
In the early days of Biden’s presidency, he invited a group of GOP senators to the Oval Office to discuss proposals for COVID-19 relief.
The meeting was his first with any lawmakers since taking office, and the effort toward unity was largely praised from both sides of the aisle.
While the group, which included Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, offered optimistic comments on the potential for bipartisanship after the meeting, nothing materialized.
The president then opted to move forward with a largely progressive agenda, choosing to pursue legislation unlikely to garner much GOP backing.
It remains to be seen if he can peel off one or two Republicans who will back his infrastructure push.
What’s notable, however, are the names not included on Monday’s invite list, including prominent Republicans such as Sens. Romney, Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.).