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Politics Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal

03:41  27 july  2021
03:41  27 july  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Infrastructure push on rocky ground as key Senate test vote looms

  Infrastructure push on rocky ground as key Senate test vote looms It could all come together, or it could all fall apart. © Alex Wong/Getty Images Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) listens during a news briefing after a Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol July 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. Those are the stakes for President Joe Biden's infrastructure agenda as it faces a critical week in the Senate that could prove to be a make-or-break moment for both a bipartisan deal and a broader package to expand the social safety net that Democrats intend to move on a party-line vote.

'I do trust the president': Senators scramble to save bipartisan infrastructure deal . "This is the largest infrastructure package in the history of the United States of America," the West Virginia Democrat said. "There is no doubt in my mind, never has been a doubt in my mind, that (Biden) is anxious for this bill to pass and for him to sign it." The deal , initiated by a bipartisan group of 10 senators that later swelled to a group of 21, was endangered almost immediately after its announcement Thursday evening, after comments Biden made in a news conference on the deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators are racing to seal a bipartisan infrastructure deal as soon as Monday. Pressure is mounting on all sides to show progress. It’s a make-or-break week on President Joe Biden’s top priority. One major roadblock is how much money should go to public transit. But spending on water projects, broadband and others areas remains unresolved, as is tapping COVID-19 funds to help pay for it. Democrats and the White House sent an offer to Republicans late Sunday to finish the remaining issues. The group’s lead Republican negotiator says both sides were “about 90

The White House and senators from both parties are scrambling to pull their infrastructure talks back from the point of collapse, a sudden turnabout after key negotiators expressed confidence they were nearing a final deal.

Rob Portman et al. standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) arrives for a vote on July 13 © Greg Nash Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) arrives for a vote on July 13

If the talks on the $1.2 billion framework fall apart, it would deal a serious blow to White House hopes of securing a bipartisan deal, an important political win for President Biden and moderate Democrats in the House and Senate. Several Republicans have also put their reputations on the line to get a deal.

Senators and the White House were both trying to tamp down the doomsday predictions Monday evening amid finger-pointing on both sides.

If Biden Burns AOC on $4 Trillion Deal, He’ll Pay the Price

  If Biden Burns AOC on $4 Trillion Deal, He’ll Pay the Price After four years of jokes that weren’t funny, it may finally be Infrastructure Week in America as Democrats race to move two major pieces of legislation: a $579 billion bipartisan plan to repair the nation’s ailing roads, bridges and energy infrastructure, and a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget plan that Senate Democrats plan to pass on a party-line vote. But while Joe Biden and Senate Democrats have focused on solidifying GOP support for the smaller, bipartisan bill, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is vowing to torpedo Biden’s big package if progressive spending priorities are left out.

Lawmakers racing to seal a bipartisan infrastructure deal early this coming week are hitting a major roadblock over how much money should go to public transit. Republicans including Toomey want to change that, but Democratic Sens . Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Tom Carper of Delaware say they will oppose the deal if it does. The White House has declined to say whether Biden would push for the additional funding for transit. “Transit funding is obviously extremely important to the president — the ‘Amtrak President,’ as we may call him,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

The Senate faces a time crunch to pass President Joe Biden's sweeping agenda, as senators try this week to finalize and advance a bipartisan infrastructure package. Democratic and Republican lawmakers aim to release as soon as Monday a bill that would put 9 billion in new funds into transportation, broadband and utilities. He added that he feels "good about getting it done this week," and pointed to transit money as the biggest roadblock toward a deal . Democratic senators and White House officials have sent the GOP side a counteroffer that would address all remaining sticking points

Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), the lead GOP negotiator for the talks, told reporters early Monday evening that their coverage had been too pessimistic.

"'Oh, it's terrible. Everything is falling apart,'" Portman said, offering his impression of how reporters are covering the negotiations. "[But] it's good. We're making progress. ... Somebody be a little positive. I mean, c'mon."

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who had said earlier Monday that he thought the talks had slowed, appeared more optimistic after the Democratic negotiators met with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"I feel bullish that it will be done by the morning," Tester said, referring to Tuesday. "Is there still outstanding issues? Yeah. Nobody's bailed."

The bipartisan group met on Monday evening to try to salvage the deal after an intense day of fighting appeared to put it on shaky grounds and seemed optimistic after their talk. The senators are expected to talk late into Monday night by phone.

Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag

  Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag Tempers are starting to flare on both sides of the aisle as bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on and negotiators face the prospect of missing an informal self-imposed deadline of Monday for getting a deal.Some Democrats are accusing Republicans of slow-walking the negotiations and reopening negotiating items that were believed to be solved.Republicans say Democrats are being unreasonable in some of their demands, such as an insistence on tens of billions of dollars in new funding for transit and broad authority for local governments to decide how to spend infrastructure funds.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers racing to seal a bipartisan infrastructure deal early this coming week are hitting a major roadblock over how much money should go to public transit, the group's lead Republican negotiator said Sunday. As discussions continued through the weekend, Ohio Sen . The final package would need the support of 60 senators in the evenly split 50-50 Senate to advance past a filibuster — meaning at least 10 Republicans along with every Democratic member. Last week's test vote failed along party lines. A Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the private talks said

Senate vote scheduled Wednesday on infrastructure legislation. Republicans urge a delay until Monday, so legislative language can be drafted and the cost totaled. Democratic Sen . Jon Tester says ‘it will be done.’ WASHINGTON – Bipartisan negotiations stretched deep into the evening Tuesday as senators scrambled to find But after talks ran to 11 p.m. Tuesday, the latest in a series of late-night talks, Democrats were optimistic a deal could be reached Wednesday morning before the vote and legislative language drafted afterward. Biden’s infrastructure bill:Republicans push to delay Senate

"Hell no. We're not pulling the plug," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) about the talks. "We're trying to get the best infrastructure bill, with bipartisan movement ... and we're hoping to get that done."

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said the group was "making good progress, and I'm confident that we're going to get to a deal. ... Our group here is seeing eye to eye."

The White House and Biden positioned themselves as hopeful. Biden described himself as "optimistic," while White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the talks as in the "end stages."

"We remain confident in reaching an agreement and we also remain interested in any Republican counteroffers," she said.

Some said the drama was typical of the last-minute wrangling that happens toward the end of negotiations, with all sides trying to use their leverage to get the best deal possible. Portman chalked up the hurdles to being "the way it goes" on big deals.

Senate negotiators move to finalize details of infrastructure deal

  Senate negotiators move to finalize details of infrastructure deal A Democratic source close to the talks said Democratic senators and White House officials made a "global offer" to GOP negotiators Sunday.The group of senators involved in the talks are still negotiating several disputed items, including money for highways and bridges, water infrastructure, transit, broadband and using unspent COVID-19 pandemic relief money to pay for the infrastructure measure, according to the Democratic source. Also outstanding is a requirement that contractors and subcontractors working on federally funded contracts pay their workers no less than the "locally prevailing wages" for work on similar projects, the source said.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Republican Senate negotiators on an infrastructure deal were optimistic about a .2 trillion bipartisan bill on Sunday after President Joe Biden withdrew his threat to veto the measure unless a separate Democratic spending plan also passes Congress. U.S. Senator Rob Portman said he and his fellow negotiators were "blindsided" by Biden's comments on Thursday after a rare bipartisan compromise to fix the nation's roads, bridges and ports. "I was very glad to see the president clarify his remarks because it was inconsistent with everything that we had been told all

WASHINGTON — The 9 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal remained on shaky ground Monday, despite efforts by President Joe Biden to save the deal he signed off on and then nearly sunk. But his assurances were not enough for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who may hold the keys to "I appreciate the president saying that he's willing to deal with infrastructure separately, but he doesn't control the Congress and the Speaker and the majority leader of the Senate will determine the order," McConnell said Monday at a press conference in Kentucky. "McConnell also said he hasn't "decided

While Portman on Monday said the deal was 90 percent done, multiple sources said the group faces a laundry list of unresolved issues.

Besides funding for public transit, there are differences over money for broadband, highways and bridges; using unspent COVID-19 relief funds to help pay for the bipartisan deal; and Republicans wanting to waive federally mandated wage requirements for federally funded projects.

The two sides also scuffled Monday over water funding.

Democrats are concerned the bipartisan deal won't fully fund a water bill previously passed by the Senate or provide an additional $15 billion for treating water contamination caused by lead pipes and accused Republicans of proposing something "completely unworkable."

In a reflection of the bitterness on display Monday, Democrats accused Romney of walking away from a deal on the water-funding portion and moving the goal posts. Romney's office called the accusation "laughably false" and accused Schumer of requesting an additional $15 billion in funding.

Schumer and the White House made Republicans a "global offer" on Sunday night that Democratic sources described as offering a solution for all of the points of contention. But a Republican aide circulated a list of "broken agreements" they believed had been included in the Democratic offer. And a second GOP source familiar called the offer "discouraging" and said it reopened issues that the bipartisan group had already agreed to.

Infrastructure deal: Senate suddenly acts to take up bill

  Infrastructure deal: Senate suddenly acts to take up bill WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted to begin work on a nearly $1 trillion national infrastructure plan, acting with sudden speed after weeks of fits and starts once the White House and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on major provisions of the package that’s key to President Joe Biden’s agenda. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted to begin work on a nearly $1 trillion national infrastructure plan, acting with sudden speed after weeks of fits and starts once the White House and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on major provisions of the package that’s key to President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Schumer, speaking from the Senate floor on Monday, stressed that he and Democrats are still committed to getting a bipartisan deal but argued that after weeks of negotiating, it was time to clinch a final agreement.

"We have reached a critical moment. The bipartisan group of senators has had nearly five weeks of negotiations since they first announced an agreement with President Biden. It's time for everyone to get to 'yes' and produce an outcome for the American people," Schumer said.

Manchin said he didn't see the offer until Monday. And Tester also downplayed that the "global offer" had thrown a wrench into hopes for an agreement.

"That's what's done when you get to a point where you get fish or cut bait, and that's what they were doing. It's fine. Everything is good on that," he said.

Democrats are under pressure to quickly make progress on Biden's sweeping infrastructure package. They are pursuing that along two paths: the $1.2 billion bipartisan negotiations and a separate $3.5 trillion bill they want to pass under a budget process that will let them avoid needing GOP votes for the larger bill.

"There reaches a point if you can't reach an agreement you have to be honest about it," said Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat.

But if the bipartisan deal fails, that could complicate Democrats' ability to pass a budget resolution that sets up the larger deal. In the Senate they would need all 50 Democratic votes in order to pass the budget resolution, and several moderates, including Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), haven't yet committed to supporting the budget resolution.

A Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Moves Forward in the Senate

  A Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Moves Forward in the Senate There may trouble down the road with centrist Dems complaining about the bill’s size, but a motion to advance it to a final debate passed 67 to 32.The motion to advance a bipartisan infrastructure bill has been in the works since an event in late June at the Rose Garden, where President Biden appeared with 10 senators from each party to endorse their plan. With the motion to advance on Wednesday, an additional seven Senate Republicans voted with the group of 10 from the Rose Garden and all 50 Democrats to pass a motion to proceed to a debate and final vote on the package.

Manchin indicated that he viewed getting a bipartisan deal as necessary if Democrats are going to be able to pass their party-line bill.

"I would say that if the bipartisan infrastructure bill falls apart then everything would fall apart," Manchin said. "Both of them are extremely important. Well if one falls apart, how do you do the other one?"

Schumer has vowed that he will give both the bipartisan deal and the budget resolution a vote before leaving town.

In an apparent move to try to pressure negotiators, Schumer warned that the Senate might need to work into the weekend or past Aug. 9, when they are scheduled to start their weeks-long summer break, in order to finish the agreement.

The group is also facing external hurdles. Republicans say the Biden White House has been throwing issues they viewed as closed back onto the table.

"It seems like the White House's role has not been particularly constructive of late. I think there is a disconnect," said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator.

Portman added that the White House has "added some new challenges to the list."

Democrats are worried that a Monday statement from former President Trump urging Republicans and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to reject any deal only complicates their chances.

"The former president spouting off doesn't help," Durbin told reporters.

Schumer publicly urged Republicans to ignore the former president, who maintains a strong grip on the party and is flirting with a White House run in 2024.

"Will our Republican colleagues follow the absurd demands of the disgraced former president and his media allies? ... Republican Senators must ignore former President Trump if we're ever going to make progress for the American people," Schumer said. "He is rooting for our entire political system to fail."

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usr: 3
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