A bipartisan group of 10 US senators said on Thursday they had reached an interim agreement on a “realistic” infrastructure plan, days after talks between President Joe Biden and Republican lawmakers collapsed.
The deal, considerably less ambitious than Biden’s original $2.3 trillion US jobs plan, would be “fully paid and would not include tax increases,” the five Democrats and five Republicans said in a brief statement.
“Our group … worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on a realistic commitment framework to modernize our nation’s energy infrastructure and technologies,” they said.
A deal is far from certain. Details of the plan were omitted from the statement, suggesting there are doubts about whether its current form will be approved by both parties and the White House.
US media, citing sources familiar with the package, reported that it reaches $1.2 trillion in eight years, with about $579 billion being new spending – and none of it raised through new corporate taxes or of income.
The conundrum of how to pay for improvements to roads, bridges, ports, plumbing and internet connections, coming on the heels of massive spending to revive the Covid-ravaged economy, was a key point in recent talks between Biden and Republicans led by Senator Shelley Moore Captain.
Biden had sought an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% as a way to help pay for infrastructure spending, but then signaled it would be open to revisions.
Republicans said they continued to oppose any change in tax rates.
The new group, which includes Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Rob Portman and Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, said it was discussing its approach with the White House and colleagues in Congress.
They remain “optimistic that this can lay the groundwork for garnering broad support from both sides and meeting America’s infrastructure needs,” the group added.
Republicans rejected provisions of Biden’s proposal, including modernizing public schools, improving Medicaid care services, and increasing resilience to climate change through projects like home improvement.
Proposals to pay for the latest package include indexing the gas tax to inflation and using unused Covid-19 relief funds.
The gas tax plan risks coming into conflict with Biden, who has stressed he does not want to raise taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year.