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Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) has publicly advocated for taking a bipartisan approach to passing an infrastructure package.

Moderate and progressive Democrats in the Senate are at odds over how to respond to Republicans’ $568 billion infrastructure counter-offer.

On one side are Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), all of whom have reacted positively to Republicans providing an alternative to Democrats’ mammoth $2 trillion proposal.

Coons, a close ally of President Biden who sits in the president’s former Senate seat, has publicly advocated for taking a bipartisan approach to passing an infrastructure package.

In that spirit of bipartisanship, Coons appeared over the weekend on Fox News alongside Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to reveal they were working on a compromise package. “It strikes me as a serious attempt at providing a counteroffer that meets the general framework that I was hoping for,” Coons replied when asked Thursday by Politico about the GOP proposal.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after the Senate Republican lunch on Capitol Hill on March 23, 2021.

He added that he was “encouraged” by Republicans appearing to be acting in good faith by actually making a serious counteroffer.

Warner, a moderate Democrat and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Hill, “I think this is a starting point for discussions.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) speaks at a press conference about the introduction of a Republican infrastructure proposal.

Manchin, one of the most influential senators as a red-state Democrat in a tightly divided chamber, has pledged that he would not support a package that wasn’t bipartisan.

After being asked about the counteroffer, made by his home-state colleague Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Manchin called the proposal “a starting point.”

Telling reporters that he was “sure that we can find a compromise,” he applauded his fellow West Virginian for putting together the proposal.

Joe Manchin

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

“I appreciate and respect what she did.”

Not all Democrats felt the same as Manchin and his fellow moderates, though.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) appeared to mock the size of Capito’s plan Thursday, asking, “It seems small, doesn’t it?”

“I was never that good at math but $2.3 trillion versus $568 billion,” he continued.

While he said he agreed with the spending priorities in the GOP plan, Republicans’ funding levels “need to be a lot bigger.”

“Delay just raises the cost. It needs to be a really big proposal.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), a moderate representing a purple state, expressed his distaste for the GOP proposal in no uncertain terms.

“The decision by Senate Republicans to completely cut the funding for home and community-based services that is in the American Jobs Plan is a slap in the face to older adults and people with disabilities. It’s also an insult to the workers who provide home and community-based services,” the Pennsylvania senator said in a statement Thursday.

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“Senate Republicans need to go back to the drawing board and present a real offer. I won’t be a part of any scheme that sells out our seniors and those with disabilities who have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic,” his statement continued.

Speaking to reporters on a press call Thursday, Casey and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, continued to voice their ire at the GOP effort at bipartisanship.

“This Republican proposal is light years out of the ballpark in terms of being able to get a bipartisan compromise. They really dump it all on the backs of middle-class workers,” Wyden said.

Casey went on to note how Republicans slash the $400 billion in-home elder care component of Biden’s proposal, calling it “a slap in the face” and a “terrible insult” to everyday Americans.

The Capito-backed legislation also sparked negative reaction from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and one of the most vocal progressives in the Democratic caucus.

“I think that number is totally inadequate given the infrastructural needs facing this country and the funding for their proposal is very regressive, coming down on working families,” he said of the $568 billion in proposed spending from the GOP.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) declined to offer an immediate reaction to the offer, instead reiterating his position Thursday from the Senate floor that “any infrastructure bill we consider here in the Senate must include green infrastructure, create green jobs and make significant progress towards the reduction of greenhouse gases.”

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Congress

Senate to vote on bill aimed at countering China’s influence this month

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The Senate will vote on legislation aimed at countering China’s economic influence this month, Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Monday. 

The Senate Commerce Committee will mark up the bill on Wednesday, a vote that was delayed after senators filed hundreds of potential amendments to the bill.  

“The Senate Commerce Committee will begin to mark up the Endless Frontiers Act …. a number of other Senate committees are working on bipartisan legislation to improve our competitiveness and make the United States a world leader in advanced manufacturing, innovation and supply chains,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

“It is my intention to have the full Senate consider comprehensive competitive legislation during this work period,”  he added.

The Senate’s current work period lasts until May 28. 

The bill, a priority for Schumer and GOP Sen. Todd Young (Ind.), would establish a Technology and Innovation Directorate at the National Science Foundation, which would use $100 billion in federal funds over five years to research emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, quantum computing and semiconductors. 
As part of a deal worked out by Senate Commerce Committee leadership, the bill will also now create a White House manufacturing officer position that would need to be confirmed by the Senate and would head a new Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy, according to Reuters.  

Schumer is hoping the bill can get the 60 votes needed to ultimately pass the Senate, and underscore that bipartisanship is still possible in an increasingly polarized chamber, with frustration toward China crossing party lines. 

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But the legislation is coming under fire from conservatives. 

The House Republican Study Committee, which has 154 members, said in an internal memo the bill is too expensive and should include tougher actions against China for stealing intellectual property rights and for industrial espionage.


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Congress

Marjorie Taylor Greene to introduce resolution to expel Maxine Waters from Congress…

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Marjorie Taylor Greene in a statement on Sunday said that she will “be introducing a resolution to expel Maxine Waters from Congress for her continual incitement of violence.”

The Republican lawmaker specifically targeted Waters for speaking to rioters on Saturday.

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