Bipartisan Senate Group Reaches Infrastructure Deal

Republican senators involved in bipartisan infrastructure talks said Thursday they agreed on a plan that would spend a fraction of the roughly $ 4 trillion proposed by President Joe Biden and pay without the tax increases proposed by Biden.

The deal comes just days after the president ends stalled talks with a separate group of GOP senators. The bipartisan group of 10 senators did not elaborate on their proposal, but they had reportedly considered a package totaling about $ 900 billion. Senators familiar with the deal say it requires a total of $ 1.2 trillion in total investment, including nearly $ 600 billion in new spending, according to The Hill. Both total spending and new money appear to be higher than what was planned by the Republicans negotiating with the White House - but lower than the funding Biden had requested.

The details of the plan - and proposals for payment - could also meet opposition from the White House or other lawmakers.

“There is a preliminary agreement among the ten of us on a framework, but of course there is still a long way to go. I wouldn't say we have the heads of state or government on board or we have started negotiations with the White House, but I think it is important that 10 Senators come together and reach an agreement on a framework, ”said Senator Susan Collins ( R-ME), a member of the group, said The Hill.

Another member, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), said the group was still in the middle of the process: "We have a tentative agreement on the payouts, yes, but that's between the five Democrats and the five Republicans. It wasn't brought to our respective factions or the White House so we are in the middle of the process. We are not at the end of the process, not at the beginning, but in the middle of it. "

A Gas Tax Hike: One of the pay-fors reportedly included in the deal is the gas tax's inflation indexation. The 18.4 cents per gallon tax hasn't increased since 1993, but the White House has opposed a hike, saying it would affect lower-income Americans. An increase in gas tax could violate Biden's promise not to impose taxes on Americans who earn less than $ 400,000 a year. Some Democratic MPs are also against the idea.

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), another member of the bipartisan group, reportedly said the emerging deal diverged from the Republican proposals put to Biden in ways that could help gain White House support to win - namely that it wants energy regulations for the president. "We have an energy section in ours that said in my conversation with the President that he really wants it," he said.

Conclusion: It is progress, but there is still a long way to go.
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