Biden on infrastructure package: ‘We have a deal’

Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI

June 24 (UPI) — President Joe Biden announced Thursday afternoon that he reached an agreement with a bipartisan group of senators on a deal to pass a major infrastructure package in Congress — an effort that’s been stalled for weeks by partisan gridlock.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with the group just before noon at the White House.

“We have a deal,” Biden announced to reporters gathered outside. “They have my word, I’ll stick with what they’ve proposed. And they’ve given me their word, as well. Where I come from, that’s good enough for me.”

Wednesday night, the bipartisan group of senators said they’d reached a deal with the White House on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure agreement that includes $579 billion in new spending.

The deal, supporters hope, could survive attempts by certain Democratic and Republican lawmakers to filibuster the package, which would require at least 60 votes to pass the Senate.

Biden said neither side of the negotiations “got everything they wanted” in the new proposal.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden said the deal won’t include an increase on gas tax or fees on electric vehicles. It also won’t require an increase on taxes from people earning less than $400,000.

“I said many times before, there’s nothing our nation can’t do when we decide to do it together, do it as one nation. Today is the latest example of that truth, in my view,” he said.

“I’m pleased to report that a bipartisan group of senators — five Democrats, five Republicans — part of larger groups, have come together and forced an agreement that will create millions of American jobs and modernize American infrastructure to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century.”

The $1.2 trillion package includes $579 billion in new spending over the first five years of the eight-year proposal.

The agreement is far short of the $6 trillion infrastructure package being pushed by more progressive Democratic lawmakers. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had previously threatened to use the budget reconciliation process to pass an infrastructure deal without any Republican support.

Democrats used budget reconciliation to pass the American Rescue Plan in March, but the Senate parliamentarian said this month they can use it only one more time to pass legislation for fiscal 2021.

It’s unclear if the more expensive proposal would find support from moderate Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who were both part of the bipartisan group that announced the deal late Wednesday.

Last week, a group of 11 Republican senators said they supported a $1 trillion infrastructure package that a handful of moderate Democrats had signed on to. Some of those senators are part of the bipartisan group.

Biden first proposed his major infrastructure package, the American Jobs Plan, in March. It found little support among Republicans and led to weeks of slow-moving negotiations among Democratic and Republican lawmakers and the White House.


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