“Our group–comprised of 10 senators, five 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,” said a bipartisan senator group that has been working toward an infrastructure deal in a recent joint statement.
These 10 senators have been pushing for $579 billion in new infrastructure spending while negotiators have been working toward almost $1 trillion in President Joe Biden’s top priority deal. The group has been backed by Biden to continue towards this goal following his refusal of a Republican-supported proposal that would have been lacking in bipartisan compromise.
Now, the senators are discussing potential changes with their colleagues behind closed doors.
“This investment would be fully paid for and not include tax increases,” the senators continued in their statement. “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.”
Democratic senators have been in discussion with the Biden Administration in regards to the expectations for this plan, but, according to the White House, there are still a few areas of concern.
“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,” explained Andrew Bates, Deputy Press Secretary. “Questions need to be addressed, particularly around the details of both policy and pay-fors, among other matters.”
The current tentative compromise agreement shows positive movement forward in regards to creating successful legislation in a bipartisan congress during 2021, but lawmakers believe this could still have many caveats. As of now, Congress, along with President Biden, is working to find a way to come to an agreement on infrastructure investment plans regarding how best to pay for a highway and road infrastructure package.
The likely cost, according to a negotiation expert, would be around $974 billion over the next five years, or about $1.2 trillion if the bill is passed as Biden suggests–over an eight year timeframe. A package of such a large size would be much higher than Republicans’ previous proposal of $330 billion in overall new spending funds. However, these numbers would still be short of Biden’s proposed $1.7 trillion in spending over eight years.
The final amount has yet to be released by lead negotiators; Senator Bill Cassidy, who is serving as a negotiator on the bill, was recently asked if spending had hit $600 billion. He responded: “The president said that [number] was his goal. So I don’t think anybody felt like they had to exceed his goal.”
Senators are still facing the same obstacles lead Republican negotiator Senator Shelley Moore Capito has been seeing along with President Biden regarding how best to pay for the infrastructure package. They are “fairly close” to a top-line number, according to Senator Jon Tester, another member of the group. However, they are still deciding the ways in which to accrue these funds, and one possibility includes bringing in revenue from uncollected income taxes.
“We still have to talk [about that],” Tester added.
The package would likely provide $1 trillion with $579 billion in new spending for transportation project baselines, Senator Mike Braun of Indiana said he was told by other Senators. According to Braun, aspects of the package would likely be funded by unused coronavirus relief funds–an asset that has still been a nonstarter for Biden.
“They have come up with [something] similar to what I think Capito was working on, but my understanding is it would be a little more money,” Braun explained
Biden is looking for overall investment in highways, roads, and bridges, in addition to large investments in electric vehicle charging stations and broadband capabilities. These are all parts comprising the new economy as he sees it, which would receive funding from corporate tax rate raises from 21% to 28%. As Biden left for his first overseas trip, he requested that senators continue working on the plan.
Still, though, Republicans are pushing for an infrastructure plan that would focus mostly on upgrading current transportation systems and bring about smaller investments in other areas. They are strongly opposed to funding the new spending with tax raises, with Senator Mitt Romney maintaining that the package would indeed bring gas tax increases to match current inflation rates; as of now, the federal gas tax has not risen since 1993. The group of senators is still claiming that the infrastructure package will not include tax hikes.