(CBS News) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday encouraged House Republicans to work across the aisle to pass President Biden’s sprawling infrastructure package, saying the “door is open” for bipartisan cooperation.
“I’ve been in Congress long enough to remember when bipartisanship was not unusual and that actually building infrastructure has never been a partisan issue. They made it partisan under President Obama by shrinking the bill. Hopefully the need is so obvious now that Republicans will vote for it. We’ll see,” Pelosi said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “The door is open. Our hand is extended. Let’s find out where we can find our common ground. We always have a responsibility to strive for bipartisanship.”
Mr. Biden put forth his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal late last month and has deployed five members of his Cabinet to lead the efforts to push the plan through Congress. Pelosi said last week she hopes lawmakers would pass the measure before the month-long August recess, but with Democrats holding a slim majority in the House and power in the Senate evenly divided — Vice President Kamala Harris casts tie-breaking votes — there is little room for error.
Pelosi, however, believes public sentiment will drive Republicans to support Mr. Biden’s package.
“The public understands that the worst and most expensive maintenance is no maintenance,” she said.”And we have to maintain our roads, our bridges, our mass transit. We have to upgrade our water systems. We have to build out our broadband for distance learning and telemedicine and the rest of that. So we have a big responsibility. We have a big need to the tune of trillions of dollars.”
But garnering Republican support for Mr. Biden’s plan will be an uphill battle. GOP lawmakers take issue with the size and scope of the package and argue a small portion addresses traditional infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and waterways. They also object to the president’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% to pay for his $2 trillion measure.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, indicated that even if Democrats were willing to lower the new corporate tax rate, such a concession would not be enough for GOP lawmakers to sign on to Mr. Biden’s infrastructure plan.
“The bill would need to be fundamentally redone,” she said on “Face the Nation.” “It would need to be a different bill. It would need to actually focus on infrastructure, not on so many of the additional Green New Deal spending priorities, spending priorities that are focused on helping Democrat allies around the country.”
Pelosi, however, batted down the suggestion of the measure being trimmed down to focus specifically on physical infrastructure, which would boost the likelihood the plan passes with Republican support.
“Overwhelmingly, this bill is about infrastructure in the traditional sense of the word. We also think that infrastructure — there’s a need for workforce development in order to have the workforce fully participate in how we go forward and childcare so that women can be involved in that as well. So it’s physical infrastructure. It’s also human infrastructure that is involved,” she said.
Cheney said in addition to the corporate tax hike, she expects there to be middle-class tax increases to cover the cost of the president’s infrastructure package, which Republicans oppose. Mr. Biden has vowed that any infrastructure legislation would not raise taxes on the middle class.
“This is a pattern that we watch the Democrats use time and again, where they massively increase spending. They massively expand the size and scope of the federal government, and then they come back around and impose middle-class tax increases,” she said. “So those are not things that we support, not things that I support.”
While Democrats are focusing on ushering Mr. Biden’s infrastructure proposal through Congress, Republicans are grappling with the future of the party, as former President Donald Trump continues to maintain a tight grip on the GOP.
During remarks before the Republican Party’s top donors on Saturday night, Mr. Trump continued to falsely claim the 2020 presidential election was rife with widespread fraud and criticized former Vice President Mike Pence for resisting pressure to toss out states’ electoral votes when Congress convened to count them January 6.
Cheney, who was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for incitement of insurrection on January 6, criticized the former president for using the same language during his keynote address that provoked the mob of his supporters three months ago.
“As a party, we need to be focused on the future. We need to be focused on embracing the Constitution, not embracing insurrection,” she said.