Talks Continue on Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal
In the wake of failed infrastructure discussions between the White House and Senate Republican leadership, represented by Senator Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV), the focus of attention has turned to a second group of Senators attempting to forge a bipartisan deal. The effort, led by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Rob Portman (R-OH), gained momentum last week with the endorsement of 21 senators, including 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. A draft framework of the plan leaked to the press last week, but the particulars of the plan remain in flux, subject to changes based on a review by President Joe Biden and the White House staff.
The current proposal would spend nearly $1 trillion over five years on roads and bridges, broadband, water projects and other forms of physical infrastructure. New spending would amount to $579 billion, for total spending of $973 billion for the infrastructure package. The plan would finance the spending through indexing the gas tax, charging fees on electric cars, more use of public-private partnerships, and increased funding for the Internal Revenue Service to collect unpaid taxes owed under current law. The White House has already rejected raising the gas tax in keeping with its promise to not raise taxes on families with annual incomes below $400,000.
Senate Democrats have signaled they will proceed with a second legislative track that would rely on the budget reconciliation process to bypass Republican filibuster efforts in case a bipartisan agreement does not materialize.