(CNN)Senators on both sides of the aisle said Wednesday evening there’s an agreement with White House officials and 10 senators on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, with senators planning to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday to discuss it.
The development amounted to a significant breakthrough that could pave the way for passage of a chunk of Biden’s domestic agenda — but there are many hurdles and many landmines ahead.
The details have still not been written — and liberal Democrats have scoffed at what they view as a paltry plan while many Republicans have yet to embrace the proposal.
And Democratic leaders said after a late-night Wednesday meeting with White House officials that they plan to employ a complex series of parliamentary steps to pass both the bipartisan plan and a much-larger Democratic only approach to dramatically expand the social safety plan. That tactic, they believe, can win over liberals who are angry their priorities were ignored by the bipartisan group.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said they would attempt to move both packages in July — something that would require total Democratic unity, which has been lacking so far. And it would set up a jam-packed July with little floor time sandwiched between two summer recesses.
“Both tracks — the bipartisan track and the budget reconciliation track — are proceeding on pace, and we hope to have voted on both of them in the Senate and the House in July,” Pelosi said.
Schumer added: “One can’t be done without the other.”
Since Democrats plan to move their partisan approach through the budget reconciliation process, it can be approved with just 51 votes — as such a plan cannot be filibustered. That process, however, typically takes weeks to play out.
But the bipartisan plan would be approved through the typical legislative order — meaning 60 votes would be needed to overcome any Senate filibuster in a body divided 50-50.
‘We have a framework’
Many details of the bipartisan plan remain scarce.
But GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said it’s fully paid for and offsets the new spending. The total cost is $1.2 trillion over eight years, with $579 billion in new spending.
“Everyone in that room agreed on the framework,” Manchin said, telling CNN he expects the details will be released Thursday.
The pay-fors have been fully agreed to as well, Romney said.
Infrastructure and policing legislation are two of Biden’s major bipartisan priorities, and the next 24 hours could determine their fates ahead of a two-week Senate recess.
Biden was being briefed on the outline of the bipartisan infrastructure framework Wednesday evening, according to a source familiar. Biden’s team was also briefing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the details on Capitol Hill Wednesday evening. There isn’t a final agreement and there’s still work ahead on a few areas, the source said, but things have moved within range of clinching a final agreement. “Not a done deal, but definitely getting there.”
“We have a framework and we are going to the White House tomorrow,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the key GOP infrastructure negotiators, said.
Sen. Rob Portman, another lead GOP negotiator, said after leaving the meeting with the bipartisan group and White House officials that they were able to “get there” on the payfors, but still have some final details to workout.
“I think we have a good balanced group of payfors, and 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,” he said when asked to characterize where negotiations stand on the payfors of the infrastructure package.
Asked if they have a framework, Portman said he wouldn’t use “exactly those words” Cassidy had, “but I would say, that we’re very, very close.”
“We’re going to go back to our respective staffs and work out the details,” he added.
Staffers on both sides still have to write the legislative language of their agreement, but they say the White House has signed off on the topline numbers and the pay-fors.
“White House senior staff had two productive meetings today with the bipartisan group of Senators who have been negotiating about infrastructure,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Wednesday evening. “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.”
The progress comes at a crucial time.
Ahead of the two-week Senate recess, senators have been struggling to finalize the two far-reaching bipartisan deals that are the pillars of Biden’s agenda. If they don’t finalize an agreement, Democrats will try to go it alone on infrastructure — a risky gambit that has no guarantee of success.
Democratic leaders have been looking at employing the budget reconciliation process to approve a sweeping plan — potentially as high as $6 trillion — a move that can’t be filibustered in the Senate. But it would need the support of all 50 Democrats, something several have yet to back as they’ve called for bipartisan talks instead.
Asked to describe the difference between bipartisan talks on Tuesday and Wednesday, the source familiar said, “Night and day. People on both sides very much wanted an outcome. That’s why we are where we are now.”
“We are well on our way to having a $579 billion infrastructure package that’s going to be taken up by the United States Senate,” Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana said Wednesday, acknowledging there is still some work to do.
“I think it’s really important that before we go home we get the details ironed out,” Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday about the bipartisan framework. “But considering where we were and where we are, both sides negotiated in good faith. And this is important. It’s important
Go To The SourceRead More