The 10-person negotiating team led by the Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) And Rob Portman (R-Ohio), have yet to finalize a deal, according to sources on both sides. But they think they’re approaching a framework they can present to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The two leaders have been following the recent talks.
The latest round of talks may be the last chance for a bipartisan deal before Democrats sideline Republicans and take a one-sided approach through budget reconciliation. Talks between Biden and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.) officially collapsed on Tuesday, although they collapsed for weeks as Republicans and Biden remained at hundreds of billions of dollars in spending and failed never agreed on a way to pay for it. .
Senators in the group have been silent on details, although sources familiar with the negotiations said the number was still around $ 900 billion over several years, with $ 500 billion in new spending. Proposals to pay for the package include indexing the gasoline tax to inflation and using unused Covid money. Some Democrats, such as banking committee chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), have rejected the increase in the gasoline tax as the GOP resists more gradual tax increases on the wealthy.
A source close to the negotiations described the group’s strategy as a “bottom-up approach” and that “the result will come”. But the source did not set a specific deadline to reach an agreement.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a close adviser to McConnell, said the talks “are promising but it is a work in progress.” And Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Who participated in the GOP’s latest negotiations with the Biden administration, has expressed his skepticism.
“The advantage of the other group Shelley [Moore Capito] was working with was that he had a structure. You had committee staff, these high ranking members could probably bring most of their members, ”Blunt said, adding that he would be“ happy to be surprised, ”but expected the negotiations. end with Democrats advancing without bipartisan support.
President Joe Biden has called for a minimum of $ 1,000 billion in new spending in previous talks with Republicans and Progressives have spoken more about keeping the climate and spending priorities in the plans. Biden is overseas, making it difficult to reach a global deal between Senate leaders, the base, and the White House.
Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) said he believed “things were going in the right direction”, but declined to characterize the state of affairs any other way. Nonetheless, he was beaming as he left the Senate Chamber for the midday votes.
The negotiations come as progressives grow impatient with infrastructure talks and urge Democrats to go it alone, citing shrinking legislative calendar days and crushing other items on their agendas.