WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of senators is eyeing a infrastructure deal With $579 billion in new spending that could begin as early as Thursday as negotiators try to strike a nearly $1 trillion deal on the president Joe Bidenof top priority, according to those informed about the scheme.
10 senators huddled behind closed doors, Biden encouraged to keep working on effort after him walked away from Only Republicans’ proposal this week has been unable to resolve differences. Senators are briefing their aides privately and warn changes can still be made.
“We’ve got a piece of paper with every row and total,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters at the Capitol. He declined to provide further details. “Can be adjusted and changed? Sure.”
The president and Congress are tensed to reach an agreement on their ideas for infrastructure investment, stuck on 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.
At that size, the new package spread over five years 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.”
Another member of the group, Sen. John Tester, D-Mont, said they are “close enough” on a top amount, but are still debating how to pay for it. He said one option is to include potential revenue from non-collected income taxes.
“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 seeking wider investment in not only roads, highways and bridges but also broadband, electric vehicle charging stations and other aspects of what he envisions as the new economy, with the corporate tax rate hiked from 21% to 28. Gone %.
Republicans prefer to focus more on fixing existing transportation systems, with more modest investments elsewhere. They oppose any tax increase to pay for the new expense.
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 to pass parts of the package on their own, under special budget rules that enable approval with 51 votes in the Senate. Make preparations.
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.