A group of bipartisan lawmakers unveiled a roughly $1 trillion framework for an infrastructure package on Wednesday evening, the latest offer in a monthlong initiative between Republicans and the White House to reach a deal on President Biden's next big economic initiative.
The coalition of 20 senators – 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats – are eyeing a scaled-back $974 billion measure that would include about $579 billion in new funding. The money would be spent over the course of five years on core infrastructure projects, like roads and bridges, transit systems and broadband.
"We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs without raising taxes," the senators said in a statement. "We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America’s critical infrastructure challenges."
The lawmakers have not finalized an agreement on how to pay for the bill and continue to discuss that part of the plan, including with the White House. Options include repurposing federal COVID relief money, closing the tax gap and using leftover unemployment insurance money from the 26 states that are prematurely opting out of a federal relief program.
By comparison, Biden has proposed the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, a sweeping initiative that would make massive investments in the nation's crumbling roads and bridges and includes billions to combat climate change and bolster care for elderly and disabled Americans, as well as the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would dramatically expand the government-fund social safety net.
Biden has called for funding the first plan by raising taxes on corporations, from 21% to 28%, and the second by increasing taxes on wealthy Americans earning more than $400,000 – hikes that Republican lawmakers fiercely oppose.
A draft of the group's proposal shows that it would allocate:
- $110 billion for roads and bridges
- $66 billion for rails, including Amtrak
- $48.5 billion for public transportation
- $25 billion for airports
- $15 billion for electric vehicles
- $20 billion for infrastructure financing
- $16 billion for ports and waterways
- $11 billion for safety, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
- $1 billion for a community fund
- $55 billion for water
- $48 billion for resilience – FEMA paid in advance
- $65 billion for broadband
- $73 billion for power infrastructure
- $5 billion for superfund clean up
- $16 billion for open and abandoned wells and methane gas capping
- $5 billion for western water storage
While the $928 billion offer is much closer in line to Biden's target, there remains an ideological gulf between the two sides over what constitutes infrastructure. The GOP's plan notably does not include new spending on a wide range of areas where Biden has recommended billions, such as elder care and veterans hospitals.
Some Democrats are also increasingly agitating to go it alone on infrastructure; on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer convened a meeting of the 11 Democrats who sit on the Budget Committee to trigger the start of the budget reconciliation process, which would allow them to pass legislation without the need for Republican votes.
"There was universal agreement we have a lot of things we have to do to help the American people and we have to have unity to do it," Schumer told reporters afterward. "Good first meeting."
Fox News' Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report