Delaware U.S. Sen. Chris Coons has not given up on bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate.
Politico reported earlier this week that the senator is part of an effort to come up with an $800 billion bill that might gain the support of some Republican senators.
The senator went so far as to offer his thoughts to reporters and CNN.
Coons is onboard with a “skinny legislation” followed by a bigger bill that would not be supported by Republicans but could be pushed through via the reconciliation process that only requires 51 votes, with the Vice President breaking the tie.
Republicans know that the infrastructure bill is popular with voters, even with its $3 trillion price tag. Their argument that the legislation has little to do with roads and bridges and would hurt the economy if financed by higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
A CNBC poll seemed to show less than overwhelming support for the bill. Interestingly enough, the non-infrastructure elements appear to be the most popular – a potential problem for the GOP.
As Politico noted, the smaller bill might not be supported by the progressives on the Democratic side or rock-ribbed conservative Republicans on the other. Progressives would like to see a much bigger bill, with conservatives pointing to a recovering economy as a reason to stand pat.
Sentiments on the edge of the political spectrum exist in Delaware, as evidenced by Coons facing Democratic challenger Jessica Scarane who attacked his centrist stance. Coons easily won the primary and the general election. He was aided by fringe Republican Lauren Witzke gaining the nomination.
Coons is known for his close ties to fellow Delawarean President Joe Biden but might be out in front of the White House and Senate leadership in pushing for a smaller bill first, Politico noted.
The danger for Dems comes if the smaller bill is passed. Under one scenario, Republicans and a couple of Democrats to the right of Coons, notably West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, would balk at passing a bigger bill.
Manchin does not yet support a smaller bill, perhaps preferring to use his powerful swing vote to hammer out a big bill more to his liking.
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