A bipartisan group of 10 senators announced Thursday they had reached agreement on the framework of a proposed infrastructure package that could be worth as much as $1.2 trillion.
In a statement, the group of five Republicans and five Democrats described the proposal as “a realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies.
“This investment would be fully paid for and not include tax increases,” the statement continued. “We are discussing our approach with our respective colleagues, and the White House, and remain optimistic that this can lay the groundwork to garner broad support from both parties and meet America’s infrastructure needs.”
The group is led by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The remaining seven members are Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
The negotiation represented the latest attempt to craft a bipartisan agreement after President Biden cut off talks with Senate Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) earlier this week. The White House acknowledged Tuesday that Biden had spoken to Cassidy, Manchin and Sinema about their negotiations, news Capito described as “disappointing.”
“We’ve missed a real opportunity here for at least 20 Republicans to join with the other Democrats to pass the most robust infrastructure package that we could have,” she told Fox News at the time.
A person familiar with the negotiations but unauthorized to discuss them publicly told the Associated Press the cost of the new negotiated plan would be $974 billion over five years, as is standard for highway spending, or $1.2 trillion if spread over eight as Biden proposes. The plan includes at least $579 billion in new spending, more than the previous Republican-only effort of $330 billion in new spending in a $928 billion package, but still short of the $1.7 trillion over eight years Biden is seeking.
Despite the statement’s claim, it appears unclear how the proposal would be paid for. Republicans have insisted that an infrastructure package would not be paid for by rolling back the 2017 tax cuts. The White House, for its part, has shut down any suggestion that unused coronavirus relief funds could be used to pay for it.
Tester suggested that potential revenue from uncollected income taxes could be used as a pay-for, while Romney said the package proposes that the gas tax be indexed to rise at the rate of inflation. The federal gas tax, now at 18.4 cents per gallon, has not increased since 1993.
If the deal makes it into bill form, it faces a difficult road to passage. Manchin has insisted that any infrastructure proposal have bipartisan input. However, far-left House Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have signaled they will not support any infrastructure deal that doesn’t attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Meanwhile, Biden has instructed House and Senate Democrats to prepare to pass portions of the package on their own through the parliamentary procedure of reconciliation, which enables certain budget-related bills to pass the Senate with 51 votes.
With Post Wires