Deadline for Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Nears

President Joe Biden set Memorial Day as his deadline for reaching an agreement with Senate Republicans on a bipartisan infrastructure initiative, but despite several meetings and counterproposals, the two sides appear to remain far apart on a deal. With Democrats controlling the Senate, Biden had said he would resort to budget reconciliation, a procedural measure that would enable the White House to avoid a filibuster and pass legislation with only Democratic votes in the Senate, to get most of his proposed $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan infrastructure initiative enacted into law.

Senate Republicans and the White House remain divided over the scope of the term “infrastructure.” Republicans rely on prior usage of the term to mean roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure. In contrast, the White House proposes funding “care infrastructure” and wants $400 billion included in the bill to fund elderly care services and facilities. Republicans had proposed spending $568 billion over five years. In response, the White House reduced the size of its proposal to $1.7 trillion, but much of the reduction was a shift of parts of the initiative to legislation already being advanced in the Senate.

Many of the more progressive Democratic Senators, including some Senate leadership, are pushing the White House to use budget reconciliation and forgo negotiations for a bipartisan deal. The progressive caucus in the House has also demanded that the White House move forward on an expansive infrastructure and social spending program without compromising portions of the proposal in an effort to gain Republican support.