Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was met with a laugh when he predicted as many as 30 Republican senators may vote for the “infrastructure” plan.
Appearing on the New York Times “Sway” podcast Monday, Buttigieg was asked about the prospect of a bipartisan deal.
The secretary claimed 70 percent of Americans support the $2.5 trillion spending extravaganza that redefines “infrastructure” to include electric vehicles and elderly care.
“We’re seeing this weird law of political physics that something that is wildly popular among the American people on both sides of the aisle can’t always get that same support in Washington,” he said.
Buttigieg refused to “give in” to that and indicated the administration will go to the constituents of those senators to win them over, citing a “child tax credit” and “healthcare for the elderly.”
“How much of this can Republicans vote for? That’s what we’re working through right now,” he said. “But I’ve got to believe there’s 10 votes or 20 or 30.”
“Thirty,” host Kara Swisher said in disbelief. “Thirty?” she continued with a laugh.
“I think so,” Buttigieg responded. “Look, I’d like 50.”
Swisher noted Democrats could use the budget reconciliation method to skirt rules that “still depends on support from Democrats like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.”
“It’ll be based around infrastructure only. That’d be my advice. That’s a better way to go,” he said, adding it should be bipartisan.
Buttigieg said President Joe Biden also believes in a bipartisan approach and claimed he did not hear Manchin say anything negative about it.
He said going the traditional route of “regular order” and committee hearings is something Biden “prefers,” but “our bottom line is something has to get done.”
The secretary defended proposed corporate tax hikes to pay for the plan.
“We think it’s the most logical way to pay for this,” Buttigieg said.
“It is the business community that will gain a lot of the most profitable outcomes of having a strong infrastructure as a country,” he said.
Buttigieg argued “many” in the private sector would say the corporate tax rate is “too low.”
He said the administration is open to a lower proposed tax rate, but ultimately will not budge from its spending demands.
“As the president keeps saying, ‘If you’ve got another idea on how to pay for this, bring it to me,” Buttigieg told Swisher.