Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Friday on MSNBC’s “Hallie Jackson Reports” that the Biden administration has “to deliver this summer” with an infrastructure package passed through Congress.
Jackson said, “You have progressives in the words of Politico, losing their minds over President Biden waiting to get some kind of a deal with Republicans. On the other side, you have Senator Joe Manchin making very clear with NBC News this morning. He is not down to go it alone. He wants Republican support. If this June 7th deadline, if you will, comes and goes and Republicans aren’t where Democrats want them to be, explain where the math is. How do Democrats go it alone if Joe Manchin is not on board and not willing to do it without Republicans?”
Buttigieg said, “Look, it’s not just up to one senator who wants a bipartisan approach. So does the president. I think we all do. We’re going to do what we can to get there. Some movement, which we have seen, is better than no movement. There’s also a ways to go. Like everybody else, I will be here to see the results of the president’s conversation with Senator Capito. We are seeing movement in the House where the Transportation Committee will take up its bill on Wednesday. We will continue to see these conversations. But conversations can’t go on forever. I think there’s a lot of impatience. It’s not just a press thing or insider thing. There’s public impatience to get something done. Everywhere I go, I see infrastructure that are in need of repair or improvement. I see communities that can’t wait for what they might be able to do if we brought together the resources for them to move forward. We continue to be hopeful about where these talks can get us. The sense of urgency is mounting on our part as well. You are going to see that shape our decisions and approaches in the weeks ahead.”
Jackson said, “You said that you are willing. The administration is willing to do what we can to get there. I wonder if that means since you talk about wanting a bipartisan deal, giving Republicans more time than next week to try to get closer to the proposal that you are putting on the table. At what point does the patience run out, Secretary Buttigieg?”
Buttigieg said, “There’s got to be forward motion of the ball. We can’t just be sitting still. We can’t be talking past each other. I think —”
Jackson interjected, “If there is — I’m sorry to interrupt. Would you be willing to stretch the talks into July if you feel like you are perceiving forward movement of the ball?”
Buttigieg said, “Look, we clearly have to deliver this summer. I think that’s understood. Not just as a Washington thing but among the American people. It takes a while, of course, to move a fully negotiated bill through Congress as a matter of procedure. There’s more movement next week as the House takes up its version of the bill, which is an important piece of legislation that touches our jobs plan. We can’t allow this to drag on forever. We can’t allow inaction to be the result. The president has been very clear. He doesn’t have a lot of red lines. He is willing to at least hear out different ideas. One red line is that inaction is unacceptable.”
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