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U.S. senators reach deal on infrastructure framework, will brief Biden

EconomyJun 24, 2021 12:26AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol during a morning rainstorm, after Congress agreed to a multi-trillion dollar economic stimulus package created in response to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 Coronavirus, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2 2/2

By Richard Cowan and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A bipartisan group of U.S. senators said on Wednesday it had reached a deal on a "framework" for an infrastructure spending bill and planned to discuss it with President Joe Biden on Thursday, although cautioning that unresolved issues remained.

​ "We came to an agreement on a plan that we have and we're just going to try to wrap it up tomorrow," a Democratic negotiator, Joe Manchin, said after the group met with White House officials.

The White House said the meeting had been productive.

"The group made progress towards an outline of a potential agreement, and the president has invited the group to come to the White House tomorrow to discuss this in person," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Biden will meet with the lawmakers before heading to Raleigh, North Carolina, to visit a mobile clinic administering COVID-19 shots.

Passing a bill to rebuild roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure is a major priority for the Democratic president.

Biden, seeking to fuel growth and address income inequality after the coronavirus pandemic, initially proposed about $2.3 trillion be spent on a broad definition of infrastructure, including fighting climate change and providing care for children and the elderly.

The White House trimmed the offer to about $1.7 trillion in an unsuccessful bid to win the Republican support needed for any plan to get the 60 votes required to advance most legislation in the evenly split 100-seat Senate.

After rejecting a Republican counteroffer just over two weeks ago, the White House turned its attention to the bipartisan group of 21 senators, or "G-21."That group has been working on a $1.2 trillion, eight-year bipartisan infrastructure plan, with a mix of new and repurposed funding. The framework now includes $559 billion in new spending, a source familiar with the talks said. Previously, the group had discussed $579 billion in new spending.

Several members of the G-21 said a framework had been agreed upon, although some details needed to be ironed out, and Manchin said the White House had signed off on the proposal.

After meeting with the group of nine Democrats, one independent and 11 Republicans in the Senate, White House negotiators sat down with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrats in Congress.

The White House said Schumer, Pelosi and the White House officials discussed the importance of the so-called two track approach, which would see passage of both the compromise infrastructure bill and a separate Democrat-only budget measure to meet the "full range" of Biden's priorities.

'MUCH STURDIER'

Democratic Senator Mark Warner, another member of the negotiating group, said the framework was "much sturdier" than a previously announced one by a smaller group of 10 senators.

A major sticking point in the negotiations had been how to pay for the investments. Manchin said the framework encompassed a "long list" of so-called pay-fors and all new spending would be offset with provisions to cover it, but he gave no specifics.

"We have a good balanced group of pay-fors. That was important to both sides. I will say in good faith we tried to get there. We didn't agree on everything but we were able to get there," Republican Senator Rob Portman, another negotiator, told reporters.

Biden has pledged not to increase taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 a year, while Republicans are determined to protect a 2017 cut in corporate taxes.

After meeting with the White House officials, Schumer and Pelosi said they were supportive of the concepts included in the framework and said they hoped to hold votes on the bipartisan bill and the second Democratic-only measure in July.

Pelosi said members realized that both bills were needed, and hoped to have votes on both measures in both houses of Congress in July.

The second bill, which Democrats could pass with the help of a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris, would include significant additional spending on programs such as home healthcare for the elderly and others usually not seen as infrastructure. That maneuver would require all 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them to agree.Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders is working up an ambitious infrastructure blueprint of $6 trillion.

U.S. senators reach deal on infrastructure framework, will brief Biden
 

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Comments (8)
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey Jun 23, 2021 11:44PM ET
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Wonder if this version had more than 10% infrastructure
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Jun 23, 2021 11:44PM ET
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even 10% is better than the 0% proposed by GOP in the last 4 years....
Bill Melton
Bill Melton Jun 23, 2021 11:09PM ET
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When they brief Biden, will they provide him with index cards for Q&A?
Jody Darden
Jody Darden Jun 23, 2021 11:09PM ET
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They mean change his briefs
Vinicius de Brasilia
Vinicius de Brasilia Jun 23, 2021 8:57PM ET
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Buy the Rumor, Sell the Fact
Sean Livingstone
Sean Livingstone Jun 23, 2021 6:46PM ET
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Infrastructure bill should be kept till 2023. Quantitative easing is enough to support the market and we are running short of construction workers.
Jokers R Us
Jokers R Us Jun 23, 2021 6:46PM ET
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Infrastructure bill just be one big land grab by the Feds. Republicans better fillibuster but they won’t cause they’re the same.
Pratt Man
Pratt Man Jun 23, 2021 6:46PM ET
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crumbling roads don't wait for QE.
Joel Schwartz
Joel Schwartz Jun 23, 2021 6:46PM ET
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Real talk, we need better roads. Some of them are real rough. The costs of bad roads get passed on to everyone who drives, businesses alike. Bad roads = more vehicle repairs for individuals and companies (who pass it on to individuals).
Sean Livingstone
Sean Livingstone Jun 23, 2021 6:46PM ET
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That's called road maintenance that is supposed to be paid with gas tax. And guess what? The politicians spent it all on their pet projects. Go figure.
CHADWICK RICHINGTON
CHADWICK RICHINGTON Jun 23, 2021 6:33PM ET
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The USA is an empire in decline
Jokers R Us
Jokers R Us Jun 23, 2021 6:33PM ET
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Thanks to tribal merchants colluding with China
Fred Diebold
Fred Diebold Jun 23, 2021 5:25PM ET
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Too bad only 9% has anything to do with infrastructure.
Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon Jun 23, 2021 4:10PM ET
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roads and bridges look just fine. Why do we need this?? stop spending so much money
Jokers R Us
Jokers R Us Jun 23, 2021 4:10PM ET
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Because politicians and their handlers will never be rich enough
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Jun 23, 2021 4:10PM ET
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"roads and bridges look just fine."  -- you don't own a car do you?  no american who drives on a daily basis would make that statement
Me comment
Me comment Jun 23, 2021 2:19PM ET
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Republican are playing a stall game saying they want infrastructure but in reality won't agree on anything meaningful to actually help America's failing infrastructure.
Show previous replies (1)
Me comment
Me comment Jun 23, 2021 2:19PM ET
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Republicans only want to stop Biden's agenda no matter what. Same story when ever the democrats are in the majority block anything that help America, when they have majority it is deny average Americans everything for the rich and corporations, in other words their donors.
Jokers R Us
Jokers R Us Jun 23, 2021 2:19PM ET
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Republicans are democrats with a speed limit. Whens the last time a republican administration talked about let alone cut any spending or abolished any Federal agency?
Raul Perez
Raul Perez Jun 23, 2021 2:19PM ET
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Trump abolished the pandemic response team two years before the worst pandemic. He said it was to cut costs, they weren't doing anything anyway.
Raul Perez
Raul Perez Jun 23, 2021 2:19PM ET
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Trump was talking bigly on infrastructure years ago when Republicans had the House, the Senate, and the WH. Instead they prioritized growing the national debt with tax cuts and Repeal and Replace of Obama Care. They should have stuck to creating jobs with infrastructure, we would be better off. 2020 is hindsight, and hindsight is 20-20.
Hung Pham
Hung Pham Jun 23, 2021 2:19PM ET
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Raul Perez haha what do illegal like you know about pandemic
 
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