President Biden is hosting another bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Oval Office Monday afternoon as he works to hammer out the details of his mammoth, multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure package.
The White House said that the group, comprised of Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-Col.), John Hoeven (R-ND), Angus King (I-Me.), Mitt Romney (R-Ut.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), as well as Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.), Kay Granger (R-Tx.) and Norma Torres (D-Calif.), were all selected because of their previous positions as governors or mayors.
Those chosen for Monday’s gathering, the White House said, “represent a bipartisan, bicameral group of some of the former governors and mayors now on Capitol Hill.
“These former state and local elected officials understand firsthand the impact of a federal investment in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure on their communities.”
Last Monday, the commander-in-chief hosted eight lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — for the first of what are expected to be a series of bipartisan talks between the White House and Congress on the legislation.
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 administration have said that unlike the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which passed on a party-line vote, the president is looking to negotiate with Republicans 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 than the president proposed initially.
“I believe that President Biden is open to spending the next month negotiating what the possibility is,” he told the outlet.
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 ever 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 to back his infrastructure push.
It also remains to be seen whether the administration will be convinced to push the package to the left if hit with progressive outrage for not going far enough.
Still, the White House is continuing to engage with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, keeping the focus away from partisanship.
One notable invite for Monday’s meeting is Rep. Giménez, who voted to against Congress certifying the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6.
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