A bipartisan group of U.S. senators said Thursday they reached agreement on a framework for a proposed massive infrastructure spending plan without major tax increases.
In a statement, the group of five Republicans and five Democrats said they were discussing their approach with their colleagues and Biden’s White House and were optimistic about broad support.
“Our group … has worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on a realistic commitment framework to modernize our nation’s energy infrastructure and technologies,” said Democrat-led group Kyrsten Sinema and the Republican Rob Portman.
“This investment would be paid in full and would not include tax increases,” they stated.
The statement gave no details of the deal and Democratic critics of the nascent deal shot him as senators rushed to leave Washington over the weekend.
An infrastructure bill that does not prioritize the climate crisis will not go through the House. Period.
– Representative Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) June 10, 2021
A person familiar with the deal told Reuters news agency that it would cost $ 974 billion in five years and $ 1.2 trillion in eight years and include $ 579 billion in new spending.
U.S. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was open to considering the bipartisan proposal, but wanted to see it in writing, adding that he could also push for a follow-up spending measure with only democratic support.
“They told me verbally, things; I asked for paper, I’ll look at it, “said Schumer. “But we continue to move forward in two ways. A bipartisan track and a reconciliation track, and both are moving forward. “
President Joe Biden has pushed a $ 1.7 trillion package to renovate roads and bridges and address other issues such as education and home health care.
Republicans rejected the president’s infrastructure plan, which would address climate change, build some social programs, and be paid by raising taxes on U.S. businesses.
Infrastructure and climate are inseparable. Every decision about one is a decision about the other.
– Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) June 10, 2021
Biden offered to reduce the size their proposals, however, experienced a setback this week when Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat, insisted that any infrastructure plan would have bipartisan support and Biden rejected a smaller proposal presented by Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.
This left room for the group of ten moderate senators from both parties to present a new idea designed to generate enough support to go through the Senate with the 60 votes needed for most bills. The Senate is divided between 50 and 50 between the two parties.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell also told the group he was open to his ideas, Republicans said.
In addition to Sinema and Portman, the negotiating group of ten senators includes Democrats Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester and Mark Warner, along with Republicans Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney.
Manchin told reporters Thursday that “things are going in the right direction.”
Romney said there was also “general agreement” on a front-line spending figure, but that did not materialize.
He did not specify the number, but told reporters that the expected package would be paid, in part, by indexing the federal gasoline tax to inflation.
He and Tester also talked about a provision that could increase revenue if the domestic revenue service went after tax traps.
At the same time, infrastructure-related transportation bills advanced at the congressional committee level.
With Biden in Europe, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said administration officials were encouraged by bipartisan negotiations in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“We now see progress on several fronts,” he told CNN.
“This is how a bill becomes a law. It is a process with many steps and we are encouraged by all the progress that is taking place on these different paths simultaneously. “
But the bipartisan push was attacked by some Democrats who have criticized a Republican approach that reduces the focus on physical infrastructure and rules out tax increases for businesses and the rich.
Breaking: Senate Finance President Ron Wyden tells me that bipartisan negotiations have not produced anything acceptable to Democrats and that it is time to make infrastructure bills in conciliation.
– Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) June 10, 2021