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Van Hollen Insists ‘Time Has Come’ To Move Forward On Infrastructure Bill Without GOP

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Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said Wednesday that Democrats should “move forward” with infrastructure legislation without Republican support, after an earlier effort at a bipartisan agreement fell apart earlier this week.

“I don’t think it’s shaping up to be successful,” Van Hollen said of the bipartisan effort during a CNN interview. “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.” 

We need to be working right now on that reconciliation package and bringing everybody on board,” he added.

The comments come after Biden ended negotiations on a massive infrastructure plan with a group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) on Tuesday after it became clear that the group wouldn’t be able to bridge the gap between their mismatched views about the size of an infrastructure investment.

Biden began a fresh set of negotiations with a bipartisan group of senators working on a deal that has included Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) who has continued to insist that the parties arrive at a bipartisan option.

“His view is that there are multiple paths forward,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of Biden’s approach on Wednesday.

If Democrats moved to end talks, it’s not clear whether they would be able to shore up the support of Democrats like Manchin who has signaled an unreadiness to give up the talks. 

Before Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-10 relief bill passed, Manchin appeared to call for bipartisanship until the end, but ultimately didn’t stop Biden when the decision was made to take a different path. Without Manchin’s support, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wouldn’t be able to pass an infrastructure bill along party lines.

Schumer told reporters on Tuesday that Democrats are pursuing “a two-path approach.”

“It may well be that part of the bill that is passed will be bipartisan, and part of it will be in reconciliation,” he said. “But we’re not going to sacrifice bigness and boldness.”

Van Hollen on Wednesday urged swift action.

“Now we need to take the other path, we cannot just sort of twiddle our thumbs at the negotiating table while the time fritters away,” he said.

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