Late on Monday, the Senate parliamentarian gave the green light to a strategy that would allow Democrats in the 50-50 chamber to rely on a 51-vote threshold to advance some bills, rather than the typical 60 votes typically needed.
The so-called budget reconciliation rules can now be used more often than expected giving Democrats a fresh new path around the GOP blockade.
A spokesman for the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, welcomed the parliamentarian’s opinion as ‘an important step forward’.
Justin Goodman said no decisions have been made on the process ahead, but ‘this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed’.
The prospects for a massive infrastructure investment, once a source of unity on Capitol Hill, have groaned under the weight of political polarization. Where Biden sees an urgency in going big, Republicans want a narrow plan that focuses on roads and bridges, and warn that any corporate tax increase would crush economic growth.
‘They know we need it,’ Biden said of the Republicans as he returned to Washington on Monday. ‘Everybody around the world is investing billions and billions of dollars in infrastructure, and we’re going to do it here.’
The standoff almost ensures a months-long slog as Congress hunkers down to begin drafting legislation and the White House keeps the door open to working with Republicans, hoping that continued public attention will drum up support.
But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell declared plainly on Monday that Biden’s plan is ‘something we’re not going to do.’ Speaking to reporters in Kentucky, McConnell said Republicans could support a ‘much more modest’ approach, and one that doesn’t rely on corporate tax hikes to pay for it.