Thursday, 23 Sep 2021

A bipartisan infrastructure deal teeters as Republicans pan the latest Democratic offer.

A bipartisan infrastructure agreement appeared in peril on Monday as negotiators privately traded blame over their inability to resolve major issues, including how much to increase funding for public transit and water projects.

The finger-pointing by Republicans and Democrats, done on condition of anonymity to avoid the appearance of torpedoing the talks, suggested that the bipartisan agreement triumphantly announced a month ago by President Biden and 10 senators in both parties has hit major snags on its way to being finalized.

Negotiators have toiled to translate their agreement in principle — expected to provide $1.2 trillion over eight years, with nearly $600 billion of that in new federal funds — into legislative text that the Senate could consider. They are running out of time, with only two remaining weeks before the Senate is scheduled to begin its summer recess as Democrats aim to consider both an infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint carrying much of the rest of Mr. Biden’s agenda, including major expansions of health care, education, paid leave and measures to tackle climate change.

With the bipartisan group aiming to produce an infrastructure bill this week, Democrats on Sunday night delivered an offer intended to resolve a series of sticking points, including funding for water infrastructure, highways, bridges and broadband, as well as using unspent coronavirus relief funds to finance the package.

Part of that offer included a proposed trade-off, according to a Democratic official close to the negotiations, that Democrats would accept a lower amount of highway funding proposed by Republicans if the G.O.P. would agree to their call to increase transit funding. Top lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee remain at odds over the transit money.

But Republicans on Monday declared that offer insufficient. One Republican official said that Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and White House officials were attempting to renegotiate elements of the deal that they had already agreed to.

Republicans unanimously blocked the Senate last week from taking up the emerging plan. It is unlikely Democrats would attempt to bring it up again without clear buy-in from at least 10 Republicans, the amount needed to clear the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster if all 50 Democrats and independents were in favor.

G.O.P. negotiators had expressed optimism over the weekend about the prospects for finalizing their deal this week.

“We’re about 90 percent of the way there. I feel good about getting that done this week,” Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and a lead negotiator, said on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” He said mass transit remained an outstanding issue.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and another key negotiator, had also predicted on Sunday that the text of the bill would be finished this week.

Even if the group were to reach agreement and it passed the Senate, its path forward is complicated. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has said that she will not bring it up for a vote in the House until the far more ambitious budget blueprint, which Democrats plan to muscle through unilaterally over Republican opposition, had also been approved.

“The bill is not as green as I would like it to be,” Ms. Pelosi said of the bipartisan infrastructure package, urging that more programs be included to address climate change. “Nonetheless, I hope that it will pass. I won’t put it on the floor until we have the rest of the initiative.”

Source: Read Full Article

Related Posts