Republican senators in a bipartisan group that has been negotiating a possible infrastructure deal say they have a tentative agreement on a plan, including how it would be paid for, on Thursday afternoon.
The deal would not be close to the $4.1 trillion deal Biden started out proposing, and would not raise taxes to pay for the programs it contains.
The deal is between members of the group only, and the senators cautioned that it needs to go before the larger Democrat and Republican caucuses to see if it has support there. The group has five Democrats and five Republicans.
“We have a tentative agreement on the pay-fors, yes, but that’s among the five Democrats and the five Republicans. It has not been taken to our respective caucuses or the White House so we’re in the middle of the process. We’re not at the end of the process, not at the beginning but we’re in the middle,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Thursday.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) confirmed that the group had reached agreement. “Among the ten of us there is a tentative agreement on a framework but obviously there’s a long ways to go. I would not say that we have the leaders on board or we have started negotiating with the White House but I think having 10 senators come together and reach an agreement on a framework is significant,” she said.
The news comes as Sen. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said earlier in the day that there was still hope for a deal.
“Yeah, I think it’s clearly possible. We haven’t given up on reaching an agreement on infrastructure. … I think there’s a good chance we can get there,” he said.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said the difference between the group’s proposal and other failed attempts was that the group’s bill includes energy provisions Biden said were essential to his proposal. Cassidy did not elaborate on what the energy provisions were.
Cassidy said the Senate’s plan was similar to one the House bi-partisan caucus called the Problem Solvers came up with, which had a price tag of $1.25 trillion.
Biden willing to consider proposals
Biden welcomed the Problem Solvers’ package and sees a number of possibilities to getting a bill passed by July, including a Democrat-only package.
“His view is that there are multiple paths forward,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
If he can get a more pure infrastructure package passed in bipartisan fashion, then he could pass some of the other things in the original bill, like child care and elder care provisions Republicans objected to as not being true infrastructure, without Republican support.