President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a bipartisan deal on infrastructure spending, after he hosted an Oval Office meeting with senators who had crafted a framework for an agreement.
“We have a deal,” Biden told reporters outside the White House following the meeting.
Members of the group said late Wednesday that they had agreed to a framework for a package, after recent talks had focused on how to fund the package, which had been expected to feature $579 billion in new spending and an overall price tag of nearly $1 trillion over five years. Some estimates put the latest figure for new spending at $559 billion.
Momentum has been growing for a two-step approach to infrastructure spending. With that approach, the bipartisan plan first would draw the 60 votes in the Senate that are needed to bypass the filibuster. Then, Democrats would go it alone to pass a bigger spending package by a simple majority vote through a process known as budget reconciliation.
“Resistance from Congressional progressives is the next major obstacle to overcome,” said Benjamin Salisbury, director of research at Height Capital Markets, in a note Thursday. “The White House will woo progressives to support the bipartisan bill by pointing to a subsequent/parallel budget reconciliation bill including the omitted green incentives from the President’s American Jobs Plan and potentially key elements of the American Families Plan.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday continued to emphasize that she wanted spending on both traditional infrastructure and social programs, as she played down concerns from progressives about the bipartisan plan’s scope.
“We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill,” the California Democrat told reporters during a briefing.
“When people say, ‘Well, I’m not going to vote for this unless I see that’ — there ain’t gonna be no bipartisan bill unless we are going to have a reconciliation,” she added.
Earlier this week, the White House said Biden was “encouraged” by the ongoing talks on the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which has the support of 21 senators, including 11 Republicans. Among those GOP senators are Maine’s Susan Collins, Ohio’s Rob Portman and Utah’s Mitt Romney, while the group’s Democrats include West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Montana’s Jon Tester.