“Our group — comprised of 10 Senators, 5 from each party — has worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on 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 senators said in a joint statement.
While the group didn’t publicly reveal specifics of the agreement, several sources tell CNN they crafted a package that includes:
- $1.2 trillion of spending over eight years
- $974 billion spent over the first five years
- The plan calls for $579 billion dollars of new spending.
- The spending will be focused on core, physical infrastructure.
- The plan will be paid for without tax hikes.
- Many of the specific details still need to be ironed out.
While this deal is an important first step, the negotiations still have a long way to go before becoming reality. Liberal Democrats in the Senate in particular have spent recent days urging their more centrist colleagues to move on from trying to win Republican support, and instead push for a partisan plan that can pass through reconciliation.
Reconciliation only requires 50 senators to advance the plan, unlike most other legislation, which needs 60 votes. While the bipartisan group of negotiators contains five Republicans, that’s still five GOP votes short — and that’s if all 50 members of the Democratic caucus vote year. Liberal members of the Senate complained about the bipartisan group’s negotiations this week urging Democrats to go at it alone.
And that’s to say nothing of the House, where Democrats also hold a very narrow majority.
White House reaction
The initial reception from the White House was positive. The new money in the agreement could represent slightly more than half of President Joe Biden’s initial physical infrastructure proposal and a senior administration official told CNN that makes it worth exploring. The lack of tax increases doesn’t make it a nonstarter, the official added, saying that potentially acceptable pay-fors that the White House still considers in play are “user fees” on corporations, not individuals, and tougher IRS enforcement.
Getting White House buy-in will be important. While many Democrats expressed concerns that their party’s negotiators were giving up too much in the talks, if the President endorses the plan it could force many to fall in line. But navigating razor thin margins in both the Senate and House could prove dicey. Progressives in both chambers are insistent tax hikes on wealthy corporations and spending on climate change initiatives be included in the final package. If they walk away from the deal, it will require more Republicans to vote for the package.
“Earlier today, White House staff were briefed by Democratic Senators working on the bipartisan agreement on infrastructure,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. “The President appreciates the Senators’ work to advance 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, particularly around the details of both policy and pay fors, among other matters.”
Who’s in the group?
Thursday’s announcement came from a group of 10 senators who have become the primary negotiators after talks between Capito and Biden fell through. That includes:
- Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia
- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire
- Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona
- Sen. Jon Tester of Montana
- Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia
- Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
- Sen. Susan Collins of Maine
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
- Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio
- Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah
Lawmakers have eyed the July 4 holiday as a key time period for making progress on a deal, but an exact deadline has not been specified as Hill and White House negotiators wanted to allow enough time for a deal to emerge.
The bipartisan deal makers acknowledged they had work to do, but vowed to work to convince their colleagues this proposal offers their best hope of getting something done.
“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 said.
CNN’s John Harwood, Phil Mattingly, Manu Raju, Lauren Fox and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.Source link