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In an interview for "Axios on HBO," I challenged White House chief of staff Ron Klain on the contradiction between trying to go big on both big government and bipartisanship.

Driving the news: "I don't think it's big government to fix the ten bridges in this country that are most economically significant and are in serious" disrepair, Klain replied.

  • "Most of these Republicans have stood in front of a Rotary Club or a Kiwanis Club and given a speech about how we need to fix our bridges, roads, our highways, our infrastructure. People stand up and give speeches all the time about how people should have affordable childcare. It's basic, basic things that we're putting forward. And, again, I think they should have bipartisan support."

In an interview with Jonathan Swan on last night's "Axios on HBO," Sen. Bernie Sanders indicated that's he's impatient with President Biden's quest for Republican support for his infrastructure package.

  • Asked to respond, Klain told me: "What President Biden has said is he wants to try to find common ground with Republicans on these economic measures that have been bipartisan in the past. ... These things shouldn't divide our political parties."

Klain brushed off a question about whether Biden's ready to run against Donald Trump again in 2024.

  • "My experience ... is that incumbent presidents are judged on their record. President Trump had a bad record in 2020. Joe Biden is hopefully assembling a powerful record to run on if he runs for reelection in 2024."
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Go deeper

May 9, 2021 - Axios on HBO

Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain

On the next episode of “Axios on HBO,” Axios Co-founder Mike Allen interviews White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

  • Catch the full interview and much more on Sunday, May 9 at 6 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max. 

Bernie Sanders skeptical of the Biden White House's dealmaking plan

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) indicated to "Axios on HBO" he's already impatient with the White House's quest for Republican support for President Biden's infrastructure package, saying. "The American people want results" and don't care if these results are achieved with bipartisan votes.

Why it matters: The Budget Committee chairman and former presidential rival can cause a lot of headaches for Biden if he so chooses. He controls the budget process Senate Democrats have used to bypass GOP opposition and pass legislation on a pure party-line vote.

May 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden, Carper to talk infrastructure at White House

Sen. Tom Carper. Photo: Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden will discuss his infrastructure proposal with Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, during a meeting at the White House on Monday, two sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is a big week for Biden to advance his $2.3 trillion "American Jobs Plan." Congress will return to the Capitol following a weeklong recess, and the focus of most conversations within the Capitol will be squarely on whether both parties can strike a bipartisan deal.

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