White House chief of staff Ron Klain seeks to sidestep debate on reconciliation

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White House chief of staff Ron Klain dodged Thursday on whether congressional Democrats would work to pass President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan through the reconciliation process, potentially skirting the 60-vote threshold required by the Senate filibuster.

“Look, I think what we want to do is get this passed,” Klain told POLITICO Playbook in a virtual interview. “And I think that starts with a conversation with a broad array of members in both parties to see where the support is [and] how this looks as we move it through the process. That’s our first goal.”

As the White House embarks on the next phase of its ambitious legislative agenda, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are preparing to revisit the reconciliation tool that allowed Democrats to approve a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package last month without Republican support.

The complex budgetary maneuver would allow Senate Democrats to pass Biden’s expansive infrastructure plan with a simple majority in the chamber. But Klain declined Friday to comment on whether the White House had already determined it would seek to bypass the filibuster, saying he was “not going to get into legislative tactics today.”

“We just launched this plan yesterday. Congress is out of session. We’re going to start to bring members down here physically … after this Easter break and talk to Congress — talk to members of the House and Senate, Democrats, Republicans about how they want to move forward. We want to move forward, if it’s at all possible, on a bipartisan basis, and I think there’s some hope for that.”

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