Vice President Harris to host bipartisan dinner for women senators
Vice President Kamala Harris will host her first social event since taking office as the country’s second-in-command, after inviting all female Senate members to join her for dinner at the Naval Observatory on Tuesday evening.
The US Senate currently has 24 women, including 16 Republicans and eight Democrats.
While it’s unclear how many Senators accepted Harris’s invitation, at least two Republicans will be in attendance: GOP Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters Monday night, they both plan to join the vice president for her dinner.
The meeting – which has been postponed due to renovations at the Naval Observatory, the official residence of all vice presidents – comes amid tense negotiations between lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the White House, as the two sides are trying to develop a satisfactory set of infrastructures.
Murkowski and Collins are both part of a bipartisan group of senators that last week unveiled an interim “framework of compromise” on infrastructure finance. This plan includes a total of $ 1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending over eight years, with $ 579 billion in new spending; $ 974 billion would be spent in the first five years after the bill is passed.
The White House’s current proposal is $ 1.7 trillion, down from Biden’s initially proposed $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure package, which he lowered in previous negotiations with the GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
But the new bipartisan proposal could struggle to make it to the Senate, let alone President Joe Biden’s office, as many senators have already raised concerns about the package.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who meets with Democrats, told reporters Monday night he opposed the proposal and would not vote for it because the $ 1.2 trillion only meets needs essential infrastructure and do not focus on climate change.
“I would not vote for it,” said Senator Sanders mentionned of the bipartite proposal. “The bottom line is that there are needs that this country is facing. Now is the time to meet those needs and this needs to be paid for in a gradual fashion given that we have huge incomes and wealth inequalities in America. . ”
Meanwhile, Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., Opposes any package that proposes a tax increase. The bipartisan bill, without including traditional tax hikes, proposes to index the gasoline tax to inflation.
“I will not support any tax increase. I will not support the increase in the debt, ”Senator Scott said Monday evening, adding that he saw the indexation of the gasoline tax as a tax increase.
Biden has repeatedly stated that he will not agree to an infrastructure package that would raise taxes for people earning less than $ 400,000.
And that’s where Tuesday’s Senate dinner could come in. With Biden still out of the country on his first trip overseas as president, Harris is the White House’s chief negotiator on the issue of infrastructure.
The dinner itself is closed to the press, and the White House has given no details on what could be discussed on Tuesday night, meaning infrastructure could be off the menu entirely.
But it’s not uncommon for a vice president to woo senators before a crucial vote or curry favor during negotiations.
During his tenure, then-Vice President Mike Pence hosted a coalition of Republican senators for a dinner before a key vote on a package that would cut taxes in 2017. Dinner guests then included the Senator . Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Senator James Lankford, R-Okla., Both of whom had expressed concerns that the bill could increase the national debt.
Flake and Lankford ultimately voted in favor of the tax cuts in a vote two days later after numerous changes and additions to the law were made.
Biden, who spent more than three decades in the Senate before becoming Vice President of Barack Obama, was well known for hosting many events at Number One Observatory Circle – although its evenings are often more geared towards family and friends only political figures.
Biden also surprised his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, in 2010 with a plaque in the backyard of the house bearing the words “Joe Loves Jill”.