WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators is eyeing an infrastructure deal with $579 billion in new spending as negotiators try to attack a nearly $1 trillion deal, a top priority of President Joe Biden, the plan. According to the information about.
10 senators are congregating behind closed doors, encouraged by Biden to keep working on the effort as he walked away this week only to have a Republican proposal that was unable to resolve differences. Senators are briefing their aides privately and warning changes can still be made.
The senators said in a joint statement, “Our group – consisting of 10 senators, 5 from each party – has acted in good faith and worked on a realistic, compromise framework for modernizing our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies.” A bipartisan agreement has been reached.”
“This investment will be paid for in full and will not include tax hikes,” he said. “We are discussing our approach with our respective allies and the White House, and remain optimistic that it can lay the groundwork for broader support from both sides.” and meet America’s infrastructure needs.”
The White House said Democratic senators briefed the administration about the emerging plan but questions remain.
Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said, “The President appreciates the work of the senators to advance the critical investments we need to create good jobs, prepare for our clean energy future and compete in the global economy.” ” “Questions need to be addressed, especially around the details of both the policy and the payment, among other matters.”
The president and Congress are pressing to reach an agreement on their ideas for stuck infrastructure investment over the scope of the road, highway and other projects package and how to pay for it. Lawmakers say the group’s provisional settlement represents significant progress in creating a bill that could pass an equally divided Congress this year, but they also know it can be easily unraveled.
A person who was familiar with the talks but was unofficially asked to discuss them publicly said the cost would be $974 billion over five years, as is the standard for highway spending, or $1.2 trillion if Biden’s. There should be more than eight as per the proposal. At that size, the new package would exceed the previous Republican-only $330 billion package of $928 billion in new spending, but still less than the $1.7 trillion over eight years that Biden is seeking.
The group appears to be facing the same problems that Biden and prominent Republican negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito faced in agreeing a way to pay for it.
Bill Cassidy, R-LA, a key negotiator, would not disclose the final tab. Asked if the new spending is $600 billion, he said, “The president said that was his goal. So I don’t think anyone felt like they had to exceed their target.”
“We still have to talk,” said the examiner.
Mike Braun, a Republican not in the group, said he was told the package would provide about $1 trillion — including $579 billion in new spending at baseline for transportation projects.
Braun also said parts of it would be paid for from the unused COVID-19 relief fund, which has been a nonstarter for the White House.
“They’ve come up with what I think Capito was working on, but my understanding is that it would be a little more money,” he said.
After talks with Capito and GOP senators failed this week, Biden tasked senators to keep working as he left for his first overseas trip.
The president is calling for wider investment in not only roads, highways and bridges but also broadband, electric vehicle charging stations and other aspects of what he envisions as a new economy, with the corporate tax rate hiked from 21% to 28 percent. was done %.
Republicans prefer to focus more on fixing existing transportation systems, with more modest investments elsewhere. They oppose tax increases to pay for the new spending, and while 10 lawmakers said the package would not include tax increases, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said the package proposes that the gas tax be increased at the rate. should be indexed. of inflation. The federal gas tax, which is now 18.4 cents a gallon, has not increased since 1993.
The White House has clarified that indexing the gas tax for inflation or imposing an electric vehicle mileage tax would be nonstarters. They would violate the president’s red line against raising taxes on Americans who make less than $400,000 a year.
With the Senate narrowly divided, 50-50, and most legislation requiring 60 votes to proceed from a filibuster, Biden is seeking a bipartisan agreement to ensure passage. At the same time, he is also instructing Democrats who control the House and Senate, under special budget rules that enable approval with 51 votes in the Senate, to pass parts of the package on their own. prepare for.
In an evenly divided Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote.
Meanwhile, a House panel early Thursday advanced legislation that serves as a key building block for that chamber’s infrastructure efforts. The bill aims to boost federal spending on roads, bridges, transit and rail. The $547 billion package passed by a vote of 38-26 mostly along party lines and will likely be considered by the full house later this month.