Senator Ben Cardin (D., Md.) speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2019. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Senator Ben Cardin (D., Md.) was caught on hot mic on Monday saying that Democrats would likely aim to pass a massive infrastructure bill via budget reconciliation rules.

Cardin made his remarks to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at a press conference, not realizing that a C-SPAN mic was recording.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be put together similar to how the American Rescue Plan was put together,” Cardin said, referring to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. “Most likely, we’re going to have to use reconciliation.”

Budget reconciliation is a process that allows the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority rather than with the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster. Per Senate rules, the reconciliation process is supposed to be limited to bills that pertain to the federal budget. The Senate parliamentarian ruled in late February that Democrats could not use budget reconciliation to raise the federal minimum wage.

President Biden advocated a major infrastructure spending bill on the campaign trail, although Congressional Democrats are still working on the details of the legislation. The administration is considering the first major federal tax hike in decades in order to fund the bill, which will likely cost more than the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Biden’s campaign proposal included investment in electric vehicle charging stations, expansion of broadband internet access, and refurbishment of affordable housing.

“We view infrastructure as the kind of investments this country needs…to succeed in this century and beat China in the global economy, to create the kind of jobs we need,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Punchbowl News last week. A bill would include investments in “hundreds of thousands of charging stations for the new generation electrical vehicles,” “power transmission for clean power,” and “roads and bridges and all these other things.”

Cardin’s comments come as progressives push their moderate counterparts to reform the filibuster to eliminate the 60-vote requirement for legislation that expands voting rights,.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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