Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Wednesday that it’s time for his party to move forward on infrastructure legislation without Republican agreement, asserting that members of his party “cannot just sort of twiddle our thumbs at the negotiating table while the time fritters away.”
After several weeks of talks, including multiple meetings in the Oval Office, negotiations on a massive infrastructure plan with a group of Senate Republicans collapsed Tuesday, dealing a blow to President Joe Biden’s attempts at bipartisanship.
Now, Van Hollen told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront,” his party should go it alone and pass a massive infrastructure plan with just Democratic votes.
“At the end of the day, if we can’t get the Republicans on board, we need to move forward,” the Maryland Democrat said. “And my view is that time has come.”
If Democrats are going to move alone, they’ll need weeks – if not months – to get a bill ready to go to the floor. And Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has signaled he’s not ready to give up the talks. Without him, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can’t pass an infrastructure bill along party lines.
The White House is now shifting its focus toward an impending proposal from a bipartisan Senate group led by Manchin. But Van Hollen maintained Wednesday, “The most important thing is, at the end of the day, what we pass has to embrace that bold vision that President Biden put forward in both the American Jobs Plan and the American Family Plan.”
“And even if somehow this bipartisan agreement were to work out, it would not begin to cover and match that vision. So no matter what, we need to be working right now on that reconciliation package and bringing everyone on board,” he said.
The President, Van Hollen continued, “has negotiated in good faith, but just like he did with the American Rescue Plan, when Republicans refused to come to the table, we need to do the right thing for the country.”
Biden has repeatedly told his top advisers he sees merit to a bipartisan agreement beyond just what it would bring to the