Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sounded confident Sunday that the House is close to passing both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda spending bill.
“What I know is that we’re the closest that we’ve ever been, and it looks like we’re teed up for major action soon,” Buttigieg said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And the president is sounding that note of urgency not just because the president needs it, but because the country needs it.”
Buttigieg’s comments came amid increased frustrations on Capitol Hill over the lack of a deal and continually delayed votes on the bills. Both the infrastructure bill and the spending plan have been in limbo for weeks as progressives and moderate Democrats have yet to reach agreements on what provisions make it into the spending bill. (Republicans have sat out the negotiations.) Democrats were seeking to hammer out a final agreement before Biden left for an international trip last week, but that was not to be.
While Buttigieg indicated Sunday that a vote on both bills was close, he did not say whether some of progressives’ unresolved issues, such as negotiating lower drug prices and paid family leave, would make it into the spending plan. He also wouldn’t say whether he could guarantee that House Democrats will pass both bills this week, instead reiterating that it’s “the closest we’ve ever been.”
Buttigieg did concede that the spending framework the administration has arrived at “is not perfect,” but he noted that it’s “enormously important, beneficial and good for the American people” and “must pass.”
“Is there more that we could be working on, more we hope to do? Of course there is, and we’ll keep fighting for it,” Buttigieg said. “But what we have on the table, right this minute, in this framework, is historic, it’s good policy and, of course, good policy is good politics.”
Buttigieg also claimed the passage of the infrastructure bill is a crucial step in addressing the country’s supply chain issues, saying: “The best thing we can do for the long run for issues around pricing and the supply chain is better infrastructure, so the goods can move smoothly in this country.”
The Transportation secretary reiterated in a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning that supply chain backlogs are not being helped by “outdated” infrastructure. He added that the pandemic has also been a major contributor to the crisis — “poking holes in supply no matter how good any company or any administration is.”
“We’re going to keep working on things like the port issues, smoothing out anything else that is within our control,” Buttigieg said. “But the only way we can really put these disruptions behind us is to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, which is why the president has been leading decisively to do just that.”