WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the first time since taking office, President Joe Biden met with all four Congressional leaders in the Oval Office on Wednesday, but Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) believes it may have been “all of show.”
President Biden met with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. Vice President Kamala Harris was also in attendance.
According to the president, the purpose of the meeting was to see if the two parties could identify potential areas of compromise and common ground. During the meeting, they discussed how to reach a deal on the Infrastructure-focused ‘American Jobs Plan.’
The more than hour and half long meeting ended with optimism they’ll be able to pass something bipartisan, but Jackson isn’t convinced just yet.
“Do I think this was all for show today?” Jackson said. “Yes, that’s what I think, but we’ll see.”
Jackson said he hoped the president would listen to McCarthy’s suggestions from House Republicans.
“Maybe they’ll take on board some of the comments or some of the suggestions that were made, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not. I really hope it does and that’s what I’d like to see, but we’ll wait and see. I have no trust, no faith, and no confidence in the Biden Administration at this particular point.”
Biden has said he’s open to negotiating on the next massive infrastructure bill with Republicans, but Jackson said first, they need to agree on what “infrastructure” means.
The American Jobs Plan includes both traditional projects like roads and more progressive efforts like expanded broadband and green energy initiatives. However, the GOP have said they do not want to pass anything over $800 billion and are pushing for a nearly $600 billion alternative that focuses on traditional infrastructure items.
“I would like to see a good, solid infrastructure bill that deals only with infrastructure, ” Jackson said. “Not with this sodalist wish list that’s been part of what’s been put together. It should be only infrastructure issues that would be much smaller than what the Democrats are proposing right now.”
Biden is also pitching his “American Families Plan,” which proposes funding for four additional years for free universal education, subsidizing child care for middle-class families and expanding paid family leave and child tax credits.
Tuesday talks came the same day Republican Liz Cheney was ousted from party leadership. The congresswoman came under sharp criticism from her colleagues following her vote to impeach President Trump and her continued criticism of the 45th president.
Jackson said he voted to remove Cheney from her position as conference chair. He said it’s not personal, but said he made his vote because he’s looking forward to how the GOP can win back the House during the 2022 midterm elections.
“We have to have a party that is unified and we have to have a conference chair that speaks for the conference,” Jackson said. “Quite honestly, I know she maintains she voted her conscious and she felt like she did what she had to, but she didn’t get the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that she represents the conference.”
New York Congressman Elise Stefanik has launched her bid for Cheney’s former role. A candidate’s forum for the open conference chair position is expected to be held on Thursday.