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Republicans in the dispute over infrastructure law as voting approaches

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WASHINGTON – Business groups and some Senate Republicans working with Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have made a major effort to get GOP votes for a bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of a final Thursday vote.

Although the move is the result of a compromise between moderates in both parties, Republican House leaders rely on their members to oppose the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill by belittling its content and arguing that it does Democrats will only pave the way to push their way through larger bill on climate change and social policy.

Her opposition has increased pressure on spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, who threatens the more progressive members of her Democratic group to withhold support for the infrastructure package until Congress approves this broader bill. If the Republicans unite in opposition, Ms. Pelosi can afford to lose just three Democrats on the bill.

But some Republican senators who helped draft the bill, as well as influential business groups who support it – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable – have taken countermeasures to persuade House Republicans to support the legislation.

“It’s a good calculation; It’s right there for the country so I encourage Republicans to support it, ”said Senator Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio and one of the bill’s negotiators, who said he was working hard on the phones. “There will be some who have told me they will, but they are under a lot of pressure.”

How the contradicting print campaigns develop could determine the fate of the Infrastructure Act. On Tuesday, Liberal Democrats accused Ms. Pelosi of treason for abandoning her promise that the House of Representatives would not seize the infrastructure bill until the Senate ensured the larger measure passed.

While Democratic leaders work hard to get as many of these liberal votes as possible, they know defectors must be caught up by the House Republicans.

“I’d say the bill is likely to pass, but it’s going to be a squeaker,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the US Chamber of Commerce who once worked for the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Rep. Steve Scalise, Republican from Louisiana who leads his party’s election pressure in the House of Representatives, is closely monitoring which Republicans intend to vote for the infrastructure bill.

“We are working to keep this number as low as possible,” he said.

Several House Republicans who are members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus have announced their support for the measure, including MPs Tom Reed from New York, Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania and Don Bacon from Nebraska. On Monday, Alaskan Representative Don Young, the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, announced his support with a passionate speech in the plenary session.

Moderate Democrats say others could follow suit – perhaps up to 20 Republican votes – if Ms. Pelosi can win over enough liberals to keep them close. But with an upcoming vote on Thursday, time is running out.

Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican freshman from Michigan, said he had heard from Republicans on both sides. “President Biden, saddling the infrastructure with this $ 3.5 trillion albatross around his neck, was a poison pill for those of us who wanted a bipartisan solution,” he said.

The Infrastructure Bill is an unusual phenomenon in a highly polarized Congress: a truly bipartisan and significant bill that was drafted by Democrats and Republicans before the Senate passed the Senate by 69 votes last month, including 19 Republican votes, including that of minority leader Senator Mitch McConnell Kentucky.

With $ 550 billion in new federal spending, the move would provide $ 65 billion to expand high-speed Internet access; $ 110 billion for roads, bridges, and other projects; $ 25 billion for airports; and most of the funding for Amtrak since the passenger rail service was established in 1971. It would also renew and revise existing infrastructure and transportation programs due to expire on Friday.

But because the Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives wrapped it up, at least verbally, with a larger $ 3.5 trillion climate change and social policy bill, it got caught up in the politics of that move – and wider Republican efforts to thwart President Biden’s agenda.

Mr Scalise put it in the highest terms on Tuesday: “This week we are going to see an epic battle between free market capitalism and the socialism of the great government. That is at stake. “

With Democrats publicly arguing over Mr Biden’s agenda, senior Republicans have little interest in seeing their base lift Ms. Pelosi out of her predicament.

“The legislative crisis she faces is one of her own creations, and she needs the progressives out of which to save her,” said Jason Smith, Rep. Of Missouri, senior Republican on the House Budgets Committee.

Proponents of the infrastructure bill are trying to be clear about the merits of the bill, not the broader policy.

“It’s true that people rhetorically linked the two together, but in reality they aren’t,” Bradley said. “If this vote is passed, the bill will go to the President for signature.”

And they argue that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are making the wrong political calculation about the infrastructure measure. GOP leaders have warned that the law is a Trojan horse, which if passed would only increase the chances of the Democrats passing the more expensive plan Mr Biden calls his Build Back Better agenda, which is jam-packed with expansions to social programs Safety nets and initiatives to combat climate change and tax increases for businesses and the rich.

“I just think it’s not accurate,” said Mr. Portman.

Instead, some proponents of the infrastructure move see its adoption as a possible setback to the larger plan. They argue that the passage of the Infrastructure Bill could take the progressives out of their leverage to dictate the terms of the more ambitious and costly part of their agenda.

Joshua Bolten, former George W. Bush White House chief of staff who is president of the business roundtable, said the board chairman organization is pushing for the law to pass, running radio and social media advertisements in Republican counties, and urging meetings with legislature.

“That’s a really good calculation. It is urgently needed. It will have a dramatic impact on the productivity of the US economy. It’s a really well spent investment, ”he said on Tuesday. “Hand it over now and fight over the other bill later.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican from Utah, said he had called on every member of his state’s delegation to support the move.

“I can’t predict where they’ll end up, but I definitely encourage people to look into the merits of the bill instead of worrying about what outside observers have to say,” he said.

In this case, the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives appear to be following pressure from conservative groups to belittle the infrastructure bill as bloated with spending well beyond its stated purpose. And they predict that moderate Democrats who have pushed for its passage will be so angry with its demise that they will take revenge by overturning the social policy law.

“This is a desperate government looking for a victory to distract Americans from the crises created by Biden both domestically and abroad while opening the floodgates for trillions more in upcoming issues,” said Republican representative Beth Van Duyne from Texas.

Proponents of the larger bill see an alternative political cause and effect. The most liberal MPs in the House of Representatives have long warned that moderate to conservative Democrats will pull away from the larger bill after the infrastructure bill is passed, as they have already secured their priority.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, another Republican proponent of the infrastructure plan, said the bill’s importance extends beyond roads, bridges and railroads.

“It’s not just the benefits of the policies we’ve put in place and the expansion of the necessary infrastructure; It’s also the message that at a time when Congress is so much dysfunctional, you can build bipartisan initiatives that will last, “she said, adding,” If it fails, I think it will in and of itself it sends a pretty tough message. “

Emily Cochrane contributed to the coverage.

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