Senate Enters Final Stage of Bipartisan Infrastructure Negotiations

Republican and Democratic Senators negotiating infrastructure legislation signaled they were close to a final deal, with lead negotiator Rob Portman (R-OH) saying they were “90% of the way there.” The coming days are critical after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) forced a procedural vote last week on moving a bill forward despite there being no legislative language available. The vote failed to garner the 60 votes needed for passage of the procedural motion, with the lead negotiators arguing they hoped to have any remaining issues resolved and legislative text drafted this week.

Remaining issues include the level of funding for transit and broadband investments and whether unused COVID-relief funds would be used as part of the financing for the package. Democrats are rushing to conclude the bipartisan infrastructure talks because they also want to move a larger budget reconciliation bill containing additional spending priorities before the August recess. The reconciliation bill is not subject to the 60-vote requirement needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, enabling a unified Democratic majority to pass the bill without Republican support. Movement of both pieces of legislation have become linked as President Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leadership want to include priorities in the reconciliation bill that may have been left out of the bipartisan infrastructure package.