WASHINGTON, June 24 (Reuters) – Republican U.S. senators on Thursday informed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of an infrastructure proposal accepted by a bipartisan group in the Senate ahead of a meeting with President Joe Biden, Senate advisers say .
Members of the group of 21 senators, dubbed the “G-21,” reached agreement on Wednesday on a framework for a plan to invest in the country’s bridges, roads and other physical infrastructure after meeting with officials of the White House.
The Democrats, who hold tight control over both houses of Congress, aim to pass a bipartisan bill but also push another large-scale spending program onto the Republican opposition using a Senate maneuver called reconciliation.
The G-21 talks focused on an eight-year, $ 1.2 trillion spending plan, with a mix of new and reallocated funding. It includes $ 559 billion in new spending.
Senator Rob Portman, a Republican member of the group, said senators will see how the Democratic president reacts and work to sell the plan to other lawmakers from both political parties.
“I hope we can get a positive response from the White House today,” he told CNBC in an interview. He was then seen walking into McConnell’s office.
The two sides will meet at the White House at 11:45 a.m. EDT (3:45 p.m. GMT), the White House said in a statement.
For Biden, securing a large-scale infrastructure package is a top national priority.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday he was “encouraged” by what he had heard of the proposal, although he warned that neither he nor the Speaker of the House of Representatives , Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, had never seen her.
Schumer also said a $ 1.2 trillion bill focused on physical infrastructure would not get the Democratic votes needed to pass it without an accompanying package addressing social issues, including healthcare. home health.
“All parties understand that we won’t have enough votes to pass either, unless we have enough votes to pass both,” Schumer told the Senate. He said the Senate would aim for a vote on the bipartisan plan next month.
The White House has opened talks with the group after Biden broke off negotiations with Republican Senator Shelley Capito. The White House said its proposals failed to address “our country’s basic needs.”
Biden, seeking to fuel economic growth and tackle income inequality after the coronavirus pandemic, initially offered to spend around $ 2.3 trillion. Republicans were angered at his definition of infrastructure, which included tackling climate change and caring for children and the elderly.
The White House then reduced the offer to around $ 1.7 trillion in an unsuccessful attempt to garner the Republican support needed for any plan to secure the 60 votes needed to advance most laws in the 100-seat Senate. also divided.
“We have come to an agreement on a plan … and we will just try to conclude it tomorrow,” Democratic Senator Joe Manchin told reporters on Wednesday of the new plan. Read more
A major sticking point had been how to pay for the investments. Biden has pledged not to raise taxes for Americans earning less than $ 400,000 a year, while Republicans are determined to protect a corporate tax cut in 2017.
Manchin said the framework encompassed a “long list” of mechanisms for paying for expenses, but offered no details.
Democrats in Congress operate in two ways.
While they hailed a bipartisan deal that could win enough Republican support to move to the Senate, they also plan to introduce a separate measure with significant additional spending on unconventional infrastructure programs, such as home care for the Senate. old people.
This measure would be mentioned as part of the Senate’s special rules for finance bills which would allow it to be adopted without any Republican support. In this case, Vice President Kamala Harris would be called upon to vote for the tie breaker.
Additional reports by David Morgan, Richard Cowan and Makini Brice; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Lincoln Feast.
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