Biden faces battle for the soul of his infrastructure plan: The Note

The fate of this bill will test his commitment to promised transformative change

April 12, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Averi Harper

As President Joe Biden gears up for a Monday meeting with Democratic and Republican senators on his infrastructure plan, it has become abundantly clear that the proposal put forth by the administration won't stay as-is.

"He knows that his current plan is going to be changed. That's the nature of compromise," Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "So whether it is in one big package or several packages, he wants to talk to Republicans."

In the process, Biden will duke it out with competing interests, Democrats calling for big change, Republicans who want him to slash key parts of his proposal and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has, at almost every turn, made the slim Democratic majority in the Senate difficult for his party to enjoy.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on April 8, 2021.
President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on April 8, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The fate of this package will not only test Biden's commitment to bipartisanship, but will also challenge his commitment to the bold transformative change he's promised.

Biden's best bet is probably trying to get Manchin on board with going it alone -- without Republican support -- to pass the infrastructure plan through budget reconciliation, but Manchin's opposition on that appears firm. Procedural tactics aside, Manchin has also sounded the alarm on raising corporate taxes to 28% to pay for the plan.

Biden has an arduous fight ahead of him to get legislation that even slightly resembles the $2 trillion plan his administration rolled out to his desk for signature.

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

The outcome of Friday's vote in Bessemer, Alabama, by Amazon workers to reject unionizing offered the latest wrinkle in the intersection of politics and big business.

Union advocates and high-profile Democrats hoped the process would serve as a political tipping point for labor reform. The anticipated outcome of the election also offered common ground for the White House and party progressives to potentially springboard into addressing labor policy, with both Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders vocally backing the effort in Bessemer in the lead up to the election.

A banner encouraging workers to vote in labor balloting is shown on March 30, 2021 at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.
A banner encouraging workers to vote in labor balloting is shown on March 30, 2021 at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, overwhelmingly voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in much-anticipated election results announced on April 9.
Jay Reeves/AP

In the aftermath, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union -- the group from which Bessemer facility workers in favor of unionizing were seeking representation -- is now calling for an investigation into the alleged tactics they say Amazon utilized to affect the election. In a lengthy statement, Amazon said the company "didn't win -- our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union."

On the political front, the Bessemer election still seems to offer room for ongoing discussions over labor reform as a bellwether of sorts. Several prominent Democrats praised the efforts of Bessemer employees as a jump-off point to future goals, although it remains to be seen where similar debates will land with regard to tech companies.

"The history of every struggle in this country tells us that we do not always win the first time out. But I believe, as a result of their courage, workers in Alabama will inspire significant growth in union organizing efforts around the country," Sanders tweeted Friday.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

Former President Donald Trump's influence on the GOP's future shows no signs of fraying. Since leaving office, he has vowed to help Republicans retake control of Congress in 2022 -- a commitment that was once again overshadowed by his broadside against members of his own party, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and his continued falsehood-laden rants about his electoral defeat at the RNC spring donor retreat over the weekend.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 28, 2021.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 28, 2021.
Octavio Jones/Reuters

As Trump seeks to maintain an ironclad hold on the base, he is also is openly nudging pre-anointed picks into races. Herschel Walker, the former NFL player and surrogate for Trump's 2020 campaign, said he's considering a bid to challenge freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., in next year's midterms after Trump encouraged him in a statement last month to "Run Herschel, run!"

"We're still going through this process of praying and really considering it," Walker told Fox News on Sunday. "I'm gonna take my time ... just stay tuned."

Walker's considerations come as Georgia reluctantly remains at the epicenter of the political arena and as Trump continues to play kingmaker in the lead up to next year's midterms -- backing those candidates most loyal to him. It's another sign that despite losing the House, Senate and White House over Trump's four years in office, the former president has no intention of stepping away from the center of the party's path forward.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's episode features ABC News' Eva Pilgrim in Michigan, where some hospitals are already dealing with a fourth COVID surge. ABC News' Julia Macfarlane looks back on the life and legacy of Prince Phillip. And ABC News' Will Steakin explains what a weekend Republican National Committee gathering tells us about former President Donald Trump's hold on the party. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

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