Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Sunday criticized Senate Republicans’ negotiating posture in infrastructure talks with the White House as “curious” and “perplexing” — warning that “there will be action” on an expansive legislative package despite a potential failure to strike a bipartisan compromise.
“This has got to be done soon. And without putting a specific date on it … the thing is, it’s just a bit perplexing why the Republicans haven’t moved further on critical pieces,” Granholm told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Energy secretary specifically cited investments in the transmission grid, expanding nuclear energy initiatives and addressing the loss of fossil fuel jobs as areas where Senate Republicans could move closer toward the White House’s infrastructure proposal.
“It’s just curious why there isn’t more coming together,” she said.
Granholm’s remarks come after a setback in negotiations last Friday, when President Joe Biden rejected the latest GOP counteroffer from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), which increased Senate Republicans’ previous proposal of $257 billion in new spending by roughly $50 billion, according to the White House.
In an earlier meeting last Wednesday, Biden had pushed Capito to support $1 trillion in new spending, after decreasing his roughly $2.3 trillion initial demand to $1.7 trillion. Biden and Capito are scheduled to speak again Monday.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key vote on any potential package, said Sunday that he was confident a bipartisan deal could be reached. Progressives, however, have urged Biden to pursue the so-called reconciliation process, which would allow Democrats to pass the legislation without Republican votes in the Senate. Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is set to begin work marking up its own infrastructure bill on Wednesday.
“The president still has hope. Joe Manchin still has hope. We all have hope that it can happen. They’ll be talking on Monday. But I can tell you the House will start their markup on Wednesday,” Granholm said on Sunday.
“It is frustrating that there’s not more coming together on this. But the president’s red line, as you have heard, is that inaction is his red line,” she added. “So there will be action. We’re just hopeful that we can see it in a bipartisan way that would be good for the country.”