Twenty-one senators are now working on a bipartisan infrastructure deal to bring to President Joe Biden as negotiations between both sides of the aisle have hit a brick wall for months.
The roughly $1 trillion infrastructure compromise falls short of Biden’s $1.7 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal, but it’s the latest bipartisan push after a spate of failed attempts by Republicans to craft an infrastructure bill.
“I’m still hoping we can put together the two bookends here,” Biden said as he prepared to leave Geneva after attending a summit overseas.
The bipartisan group nearly doubled in size, indicating a boost of energy to strike an infrastructure deal. With 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats part of the effort, the bipartisan proposal could be the first time that the Senate can surpass a 60-vote threshold to pass the bill, as the upper chamber is currently split at a 50-50 margin.
“We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs without raising taxes,” the senators said in a joint statement ahead of Wednesday’s late afternoon session. “We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America’s critical infrastructure challenges.”
The $1 trillion proposal includes roughly $579 billion in new spending, including $110 billion on roads and highways; $66 billion on rail; and $48 billion on public transit, according to the Associated Press. There’s also $47 billion set aside for resiliency efforts to help tackle climate change, as well as funding for electric vehicle charging stations.
Biden’s infrastructure and jobs plan features several Democratic priorities that Republicans argue are not related to infrastructure investments. The president’s bill, however, omits a large progressive push for a fourth-round or recurring stimulus payments that are tied to economic conditions.
Progressives contend that millions of American families are still struggling to put food on the table and pay for essentials.
The bipartisan compromise also doesn’t include direct payments.
GOP lawmakers continue to firmly oppose additional rounds of stimulus relief, citing the widespread labor shortages that they claim were triggered by the loads of money the federal government sent out during the pandemic. Republicans argue that the stimulus money and unemployment insurance has disincentivized people from returning back to work.
With the GOP against additional direct aid and only a handful of Democrats aligned behind the initiative, it’s unlikely that the measure would pass. One strategy that the Democrats could use to pass stimulus payments would be by using it as a “bargaining chip” to trade for a Republican priority.
Democrats involved in the bipartisan push include Sens. Chris Coons (Del.), John Hickenlooper (Colo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Jon Tester (Mont.). Some of the GOP lawmakers participating in the effort include Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (Utah.)
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.