A bipartisan group of 10 US senators said on Thursday that they have reached a tentative agreement on a “realistic” infrastructure plan. After days of talks between President Joe Biden and Republicans Lawmakers collapsed.
The Democrats and Republicans said that the agreement is considerably less ambitious than Biden’s original $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, would be “fully paid for and not include tax increases," in a brief statement. "Our group... has worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on a realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation's infrastructure and energy technologies," they said.
The details of the plan were omitted from the statement, suggesting that there might be questions about whether its current form will pass muster with both parties and the White House. According to the US media, the package amounts to $1.2 trillion over eight years, and with some $579 billion of it being new spending, none of it raised through new corporate or income taxes.
The key point in the recent negotiations between Biden and Republicans led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito was the problem of how to pay for upgrades to roads, bridges, ports, pipes, and internet connections, coming on the heels of huge spending to revive the COVID-ravaged economy.
Biden has sought a rise in the corporate tax from 21% to 28% as a way to help pay for the infrastructure spending, but later he signaled he would be open to revisions. Although Republicans have said they remained opposed to any change in tax rates.
The new group, which includes Republican senators Mitt Romney and Rob Portman and Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, said they were discussing their approach with the White House and congressional colleagues. The lawmakers said that they remain optimistic that this can lay the groundwork to garner broad support from both parties and America’s infrastructure needs.
Republicans resisted provisions in Bidens’s proposal including modernizing public schools, improving care services under Medicaid, and increasing climate change resiliency through projects like retrofitting homes. Reportedly, proposals to pay for the latest package include indexing the gas tax to inflation and using unused COVID-19 relief funds.