President Biden‘s claim of wanting bipartisan collaboration on major legislation is not just for show, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, insisting that he is willing to work with Republicans on his massive spending bill.
GOP lawmakers have criticized Biden’s American Jobs Plan for its $2 trillion price tag and its broad scope, but Psaki said during a press briefing that neither of these are set in stone. When asked if Biden was willing to discuss the cost and substance of the bill instead of merely the method of paying for it, Psaki responded in the affirmative.
“He absolutely is, he looks forward to hearing their ideas and his objective is to find a way forward where we can modernize our nation’s infrastructure so we can compete with China,” Psaki said.
The question came as Republicans have expressed doubts over whether Biden truly cares about working with Republicans, and Biden’s administration has repositioned what he means by “bipartisan” to refer more to the public and state officials, as opposed to legislators in Congress.
“If you looked up ‘bipartisan’ in the dictionary, I think it would say support from Republicans and Democrats,” senior Biden adviser Anita Dunn told The Washington Post. “It doesn’t say the Republicans have to be in Congress.”
Despite this messaging, Psaki insisted that the president is genuinely interested in reaching across the aisle.
“You don’t use the President of the United States’ time, multiple times over including two infrastructure meetings … or the meeting today, if he did not want to authentically hear from the members attending about their ideas, about how to move forward this package in a bipartisan manner,” she said.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, however, passed without a single Republican vote, and even moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — a longtime friend of Biden’s — has expressed doubt regarding the administration.
Collins, the only Republican Senator to vote in favor of each of the president’s cabinet picks, told The Wall Street Journal in March that while the president himself may want unity, those in his orbit may not.
“I have been a bit concerned that perhaps some of these left groups, or perhaps members of his staff, are tugging at him constantly to try to move him further to the left than I think is wise.”