Aiming to preserve a fragile bipartisan deal on infrastructure, President Joe Biden said Saturday that he didn’t mean to suggest he would veto the nearly $1 trillion bill unless Congress also passed a larger package to expand the social safety net.
Speaking on Thursday moments after fulfilling his hopes of reaching a bipartisan accord, Biden appeared to put the deal in jeopardy with his comment that the infrastructure bill would have to move in “tandem” with a larger bill that he and Democrats aim to pass along party lines.
Though Biden had been clear he would pursue roughly $6 trillion in new spending for child care, Medicare and other investments, Republicans balked at the president’s notion that he would not sign one without the other. “If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Biden said then of the infrastructure bill. “It’s in tandem.”
By Saturday, Biden was walking those comments back, after his top negotiators Steve Ricchetti and Louisa Terrell worked to assure senators that Biden remained enthusiastic about the deal.