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White House Holding ‘Informal Discussions’ with Republicans on Second Infrastructure Package

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Senior White House officials are engaging in “informal discussions” with external experts and GOP members on creating a second bipartisan package as an offshoot from a Democratic-only reconciliation bill that addresses “human infrastructure,” one of President Biden’s chief legislative priorities.

Gene Sperling and Neera Tanden, senior advisers to the president, and other economic aides are conducting the talks, individuals involved told the Washington ExaminerSome of the conversations have happened in virtual briefings, while some individuals said the White House contacted them directly.

Biden recently announced that Democrats and Republicans had negotiated a deal on a limited infrastructure package. It allocates $1.2 trillion over eight years for transportation and technology projects such as roads, bridges, airports, electric utilities, and broadband, a miniature version of the original $6 trillion mammoth plan Biden first proposed.

To recoup the ground lost in the scaled-down package, the Democrats are also advancing a separate social-spending-centric bill providing funds for elder and child care, climate change, education, etc. through the reconciliation process, by which only a simple Democratic majority of 50 votes is needed to pass it rather than 60.

The Democratic efforts followed the cues of Biden, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, and House majority leader Nancy Pelosi, who insisted on a second measure. Biden said at recent press conference that he would refuse to sign the first infrastructure bill without a supplementary “human infrastructure” bill accompanying it.

The new joint-party offspring package revealed Monday may focus on child and family incentives, including provisions for paid parental leave; a long-term extension of the expanded, fully refundable child tax credit introduced in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan; and a broadening of the scope for states to allocate direct aid apportioned through the American Rescue Plan.

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