It would be a way to bypass what Biden aides worried would be entrenched Republican opposition to the amount of pandemic aid they believed was needed, and then a vehicle to carry his longer-term economic agenda of spending on roads, bridges, water pipes, clean energy, child care, education and more.
But the administration has seen firsthand that the process will not work for all its priorities: Ms. MacDonough tossed a provision to raise the federal minimum wage out of Mr. Biden’s relief package because she deemed it in violation of budget rules. Activists argue that legalizing some unauthorized immigrants would affect the budget by making them eligible for government benefits and increasing tax revenue, but it is not clear whether the parliamentarian would allow it as part of a reconciliation measure.
Both Mr. Schumer and Mr. Sanders stressed that they had not committed to a particular strategy for reusing reconciliation. Determining how Democrats prioritize and sequence their legislative priorities, Mr. Sanders said, “is a difficult issue that we wrestle with every day.”
White House officials insist, publicly and privately, that Mr. Biden is committed to pursuing a bipartisan agreement with Republicans on his infrastructure plan. Business groups are also eager to broker a deal on the issue, though they and Republicans have expressed strong opposition to Mr. Biden’s proposed tax increases.
Mr. Biden continues to believe “that there is a bipartisan path forward” on the issue, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday. But she left the door open to moving the bill through the more partisan process.
“As you know, reconciliation is a mechanism for passing budgetary bills in Congress,” she said. “We will leave the mechanisms and the determination of the mechanisms to leaders in Congress. But, right now, less than a week after he announced the American Jobs Plan, our focus is on engaging with Democrats and Republicans, with staff, with committee staff, inviting members to the White House next week.”