Rep. Gottheimer ‘incredibly optimistic’ Dems will pass both infrastructure, reconciliation

Two major bills are at stake amid Democratic infighting in Congress. The first is a bipartisan infrastructure deal, and the second a larger reconciliation bill that focuses on climate, child care, health care and more. To break down the latest in the discussions, Judy Woodruff is joined by co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A short time ago, I spoke with a key Democrat in this week's negotiations. He's co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and congressman from New Jersey, Josh Gottheimer.

    Congressman Gottheimer, thank you very much for talking with us.

    As you and I are speaking, you're about to head into that meeting that Speaker Pelosi has called with all the Democratic members of the House. At this point, do you believe that, in the end, when this is all worked out, that both the infrastructure bill and the so-called Build Back Better measure are both going to pass and become law?

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ):

    I think, ultimately, both are going to pass and become law.

    And the great news is that this week, on Thursday, we're going to vote on a key part of the president's agenda. Part of that, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which are roads, our bridges, tunnels, helping fighting climate change with climate resiliency, that's going to come this Thursday. And it's a huge win for the country. And we're going to continue working and I know we're going to get done the president's reconciliation bill.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I hear you saying that you're confident it's going to happen.

    But, as you know, what everybody is focused on or what a lot of us are focused on is the back-and-forth between moderates and progressives in the Democratic Party. You have leaders in the Progressive Caucus, like Congresswoman Jayapal, saying there's a lack of trust, that her members are not sure they can be confident that moderate Democrats are going to support that larger reconciliation bill.

    How do you reassure them that moderates like you will be on board in the end?

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer:

    Well, I have spoken quite a bit to Jayapal, and we have speak — to Congresswoman Jayapal.

    And let me tell you what I said to her and what I said all week long, that, for me, reconciliation and what's in there is critically important to the country and to my district, right? There's resources to fight climate change. We're going to reinstate the state level tax deduction, or SALT, and get taxes down in my district. There's child care in there.

    But what's also important is that we have to get done this first package that, again, had 69 senators vote on it in the beginning of August. It's been sitting in the House. This is the bipartisan infrastructure bill. And in there are resources to fix our roads, our bridges, our tunnels.

    In Jersey, we have got a lot of potholes, third worst roads in the country. We have got a tunnel that's 113 years old between New York and New Jersey, where all the trains run. We have got to fix critical infrastructure like that. We have got resources in there to fight climate change, and with climate resiliency.

    You probably saw the awful hurricane, the effect of Hurricane Ida, which affected my state so badly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer:

    So, we have got to get both done. And it's two million jobs a year. Hardworking men and women of labor, you're talking about on that infrastructure package.

    But that doesn't mean we can't do both. They're separate pieces of legislation. And I'm incredibly optimistic that we will get both across the finish line. And I'm talking to Democratic colleagues all the time, Judy, and they both want both to get done.

    But you can't hold one up, this infrastructure bill, while you're working on the other one. That just doesn't make sense for the country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, I mean, they're in the Gordian Knot. I mean, they're saying, yes, we will go along with infrastructure, but only after we know that we're going to be able to come to an agreement and pass the larger reconciliation bill.

    So, we know the top number, the $3.5 trillion, is going to come down. The speaker herself has said that. What do you see being cut? What do you see the top-line number being when all this is worked through?

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer:

    Well, just one other point, because you made an important point here.

    In the end — at the end of August, we all came together here in the House, and every single Democrat voted to bring the infrastructure bill to the floor this week, right? So just let's not lose sight of that. It's because I think everyone recognized the importance of that.

    Ultimately, what's going to — the bill we're going to settle on, on reconciliation, whatever the ultimate number is, what's most important is what's in there, as I was talking about, climate — and fighting climate change and reinstating the state and local tax deduction.

    And we're not going to bring a bill to the House that we can't get out of the Senate, where we can't get 50 Democrats, plus the vice president. And I know we can get there. I'm talking to everyone. And I will tell you that there is an agreement to be had here.

    But the idea that we would — that any Democrat wouldn't vote for this infrastructure bill, with millions of jobs on the line, with fixing our nation's infrastructure, and while it's been sitting here since beginning of August waiting for us to act, that just doesn't make any sense to me at all.

    And when I talk to folks at home, they look at me, like, why wouldn't you just get that done for the country and get those shovels in the ground, which we're waiting for?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

    But my question is, how do you get this done? I mean, if the number is going to be less than $3.5 trillion, what number are you looking at? What number are other moderate Democrats looking at?

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer:

    Well, what we're all talking — obviously, I'm not going to negotiate here on television.

    But we're all actually sitting at the table and talking to each other, whether that's on the phone or on Zoom, all talking to each other about a place where we can get to where everyone feels comfortable. And that's what we're continuing to work through. We worked all weekend on that. And that's exactly the kind of deliberation that will continue.

    But I'm very optimistic, and I just can't say this strongly enough, that we are going to get to an agreement on reconciliation. But it's a separate bill. And we have — but we have got to — we have got to get this first bill done on infrastructure.

    And the idea that we'd let any faction of Democratic Party stop the president's agenda on infrastructure and stop those shovels in the ground and helping people just doesn't make any sense to me.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And just quickly, any sense, though, at this point of what is going to end up being cut, whether it's child care, education, climate?

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer:

    I don't see anything.

    I think, in the end, if certain areas come down a little bit, maybe that's how they work it out. But I don't see anything getting cut. There's too many important priorities in there. But, again, this is — what's going to matter is, what can we find agreement on, and what are the levels? What are the areas? Are there certain things we're going to be able to focus on?

    And that's exactly what happens in these conversations, like any legislation. And we will get there. Whatever it is, it's going to have a huge impact on the country. And that's what matters, just like this infrastructure bill will. Let's get it done. Let's take the win for the country and get reconciliation done as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congressman Josh Gottheimer, thank you very much.

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer:

    Thank you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We appreciate it.

  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer:

    Thanks for having me, Judy.

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