Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, arrives for lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
Sarah Silberner | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Eleven Republican Senators support a bipartisan infrastructure framework, enough for a possible bill to get through the Chamber if all skeptical Democrats support it.
In a statement Wednesday, 21 Democratic and GOP senators backed the roughly $ 1 trillion proposal that would not impose taxes on corporations or wealthy individuals. The plan would reshape transportation, broadband, and water, but would fail to meet many Democrats’ goals for investing in clean energy and social programs.
“We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic counterparts to develop laws based on this framework to address America’s critical infrastructure challenges,” the senators said in a statement.
The proposal serves as the last sustained effort to reach a bipartisan infrastructure deal before the Democrats pass laws themselves. A smaller bipartisan group of 10 senators who drafted the plan have tried to gain support on Capitol Hill but have not yet received the blessings of congressional leaders or the White House.
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A handful of Senate liberals have threatened to vote against the bipartisan deal, which they believe does not do enough to tackle climate change or income inequality. If Democrats reject the plan, it would have to have more than 10 Republicans backing it for it to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass a bill in the Senate.
Some Democrats have suggested that their party could approve a physical infrastructure plan with Republican backing if skeptics were given assurances that their priorities would be addressed later. The Democrats could then move to balancing the budget themselves to make bigger investments in child and elderly care, green energy, education and health care.
The Democrats must weigh the concerns of both sides of their party. The most conservative Democrat in the Senate, Joe Manchin from West Virginia, has stressed that he wants to pass an infrastructure law with GOP votes.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats would begin drafting a budget resolution on Wednesday, even if bipartisan talks continue. He said a proposal that includes social and climate programs included in President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan “is under Senate consideration even if it does not have bipartisan support.”
“There are many points to discuss, but one subject is not up for debate: I will instruct Members to ensure that any budgetary decision puts the United States on the right track to reduce carbon emissions to an extent commensurate with the climate crisis.” said Schumer of New York, said earlier Wednesday.
Biden left Geneva, Switzerland after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday and said he had not seen the details of the bipartisan plan. However, he noted that his chief of staff, Ron Klain, believes there is “some room” for a deal with the Republicans.
White House advisers met on Wednesday with the five Democratic senators negotiating the proposal. In a statement to NBC News after the meeting, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said officials “found it productive and encouraging.”
“They look forward to briefing the president on his return to the White House tomorrow and continuing to consult with senators and representatives on the way forward,” he said.
Paying for the infrastructure plan could be an issue. Republicans have insisted they will not touch their 2017 tax bill, which lowered the corporate tax rate to 21%. Biden wants to raise corporate tax to at least 25%.
The president has also promised not to raise taxes for those earning less than $ 400,000 a year. One potential source of revenue in the bipartisan plan – tying the gas tax to inflation – could effectively break its promise.
The Republicans who signed the statement on Wednesday are Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; Susan Collins, Maine; Lindsey Graham from South Carolina; Lisa Murkowski from Alaska; Rob Portman from Ohio; Mitt Romney from Utah; Mike Rounds from South Dakota; Thom Tillis from North Carolina, Todd Young from Indiana, and Jerry Moran from Kansas.
The Democrats who have joined them are Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware; Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire; John Hickenlooper, Colorado; Mark Kelly from Arizona; Joe Manchin from West Virginia; Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire; Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Mark Warner from Virginia. Senator Angus King, an independent Maine working with the Democrats, also signed the statement.
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