A bipartisan group of U.S. senators said Thursday they had 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 colleagues and the White House Biden, and were optimistic about gaining broad support.
“Our group… worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on a realistic compromise framework to modernize our country’s energy infrastructure and technologies,” said the group led by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Rob Portman. .
“This investment would be fully paid for and would not include tax increases,” they said.
The statement gave no details of the deal, and Democratic critics of the fledgling deal shot it as senators rushed to leave Washington for the weekend.
An infrastructure bill that does not prioritize the climate crisis will not pass the House. Period.
– Representative Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) June 10, 2021
A person familiar with the deal told Reuters news agency it would cost $ 974 billion over five years and $ 1.2 trillion over eight years and includes $ 579 billion in new spending.
Democratic Majority Leader in the US Senate Chuck Schumer said he was open to considering the bipartisan proposal, but wanted to see it in writing – and added that he could also lobby for a follow-up spending measure with only Democratic support.
“I’ve been told things verbally; I asked for paper, I’ll look at it, ”Schumer said. “But we continue to advance on two tracks. A bipartisan track and a reconciliation track, and both are moving forward.
President Joe Biden has pushed for a massive $ 1.7 trillion program to renovate roads and bridges and tackle other issues such as education and home health care.
Republicans have rejected the president’s infrastructure plan, which would help fight climate change, implement social programs and self-finance by raising taxes on U.S. corporations.
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 scale back his proposals but encountered a setback this week when Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat, insisted that any infrastructure plan had bipartisan support and Biden rejected a smaller proposal put forward by the Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
This left room for the group of 10 moderate senators from both parties to present a new idea designed to generate enough support to pass the Senate with the 60 votes needed for most bills. The Senate is split 50-50 between the two parties.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell also told the group he was open to their ideas, Republicans said.
Besides Sinema and Portman, the 10-senator negotiating group includes Democrats Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester and Mark Warner, as well as Republicans Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney.
Manchin told reporters on Thursday that “things are going in the right direction.”
Romney said there was also “general agreement” on a high-end spending figure, but it was not set in stone.
He did not specify the number, but told reporters the expected package would be paid for, in part, by indexing the federal gasoline tax to inflation.
He and Tester also talked about a provision that could increase revenue by asking the Internal Revenue Service to prosecute tax evasion.
At the same time, infrastructure transport bills moved forward at the congressional committee level.
With Biden in Europe, Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director, said administration officials were encouraged by bipartisan negotiations in the House of Representatives and Senate.
“We are currently seeing progress on several fronts,” she told CNN.
“This is how a bill becomes a law. It is a process with many stages, and we are encouraged by all the progress being made simultaneously on these different paths.
But the bipartisan push has been criticized by some Democrats who have criticized a Republican approach that focuses on physical infrastructure and excludes tax increases for businesses and the wealthy.
Breaking: Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden tells me bipartisan negotiations have produced nothing acceptable to Democrats and it’s time to make an infrastructure bill for reconciliation.
– Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) June 10, 2021