President Biden on Thursday announced the White House had struck an infrastructure deal with a bipartisan group of senators after weeks of painstaking, back-and-forth negotiations on a plan to improve the nation's crumbling roads and bridges.
"To answer the direct question, we have a deal," Biden said from the White House lawn. "We have made serious compromises on both ends."
His announcement followed an Oval Office meeting with a bipartisan group of senators, who were pitching a breakthrough pared-down agreement worth about $953 billion reached the night before. Their proposed framework includes about $559 billion in new spending that will be invested in roads, broadband internet, electric utilities and other traditional infrastructure projects over the next five years.
Here's a breakdown of the proposed spending:
- Roads, bridges, major projects: $109 billion
- Safety: $11 billion
- Public transit: $49 billion
- Passenger and Freight Rail: $66 billion
- Electric vehicle infrastructure: $7.5 billion
- Electric buses / transit: $7.5 billion
- Reconnecting communities: $1 billion
- Airports: $25 billion
- Ports & Waterways: $16 billion
- Infrastructure Financing: $20 billion
- Water infrastructure: $55 billion
- Broadband infrastructure: $65 billion
- Environmental remediation: $21 billion
- Power infrastructure including grid authority: $73 billion
- Western Water Storage: $5 billion
- Resilience: $47 billion
"No one got everything they wanted in the package," Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said Thursday. "We all gave some to get some."
One of the biggest points of contention was how to pay for the measure; according to a White House fact sheet, the financing sources include an assortment of options, such as reducing the IRS tax gap, redirecting unused federal unemployment money from the 26 states that are prematurely ending the relief program and repurposing other Covid relief measures.
Twenty-one senators – 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats – have endorsed the framework, although it will likely need to win the support of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in order to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to pass legislation in the Democratic-controlled Senate under regular order.
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Biden on Wednesday night and have indicated they will support a bipartisan plan – but with the caveat that Democrats independently pursue a larger reconciliation package that includes trillions in funding for issues like elder and child care, education, health care and climate change.
Without the promise of a forthcoming reconciliation bill, some Democrats have questioned whether they will support a slimmed-down bipartisan bill.
"There ain’t no infrastructure bill without the reconciliation bill," Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.
Biden threw his weight behind that strategy during a White House press conference later in the day, telling reporters he would not sign the bipartisan proposal without a separate "human infrastructure" and climate change package that includes his other economic priorities. He suggested that he supported Pelosi's strategy to not move on the $953 billion package until the Senate passes the reconciliation bill.
"If they don't come, I'm not signing. It's real simple," the president said.
He said he expects that Congress will have voted on the core infrastructure plan and the reconciliation package by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2021.
Democrats triggered the start of the budget reconciliation process last week and are considering a sweeping $6 trillion package that would build on Biden's $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. Biden has endorsed the so-called "two-track system."
"We won’t get enough votes to pass either unless we have enough votes to pass both," Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday. "When the Senate returns in July, it will be time to take the next step and hold the first votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on the floor of the Senate. Senators should also be prepared to consider a budget resolution that will clear the way for the budget reconciliation bill as soon as possible."