A bipartisan Senate group negotiating a broad infrastructure deal has reached agreement on a plan, a significant breakthrough in the drive to muscle through Congress a massive infusion of new spending for roads, bridges and other critical projects.
The accord clears the way for a Senate vote would will begin floor consideration of the package as soon as Wednesday night.
“We now have an agreement on the major issues,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the main GOP negotiator, said after meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the lead Democratic negotiator said President Joe Biden had signed off on the agreement. She declined to say how much the total package would spend, saying that was still being ironed out, along with a few other details.
Lawmakers and Biden earlier agreed to a $579 billion package. A GOP aide put the price tag at $550 billion.
“We’ve got most of the text done so we’ll be releasing it and then we’ll update it as we get those last pieces finalized,” Ms. Sinema said. “We do expect to move forward this evening.”
The White House, which has been heavily involved in negotiations, has not yet made an announcement.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sounded an optimistic tone on the Senate floor, saying the chamber could hold a procedural vote on the deal as early as Wednesday night.
“Senators continue to make good progress on both tracks of legislation,” Mr. Schumer said, referring to the infrastructure package and a separate, Democrats-only budget bill that incorporates much of President Joe Biden’s social-spending agenda. “Members should be prepared to vote again on cloture on the motion to proceed to the bipartisan infrastructure bill as early as tonight.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he is “confident we will be able to get this across the finish line.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska said it wasn’t too early for Mr. Schumer to schedule vote to begin debate.
“I am certainly planning on voting for it, and I think that there is a strong solid number of folks on both sides of the aisle that want to get on to an infrastructure package,” Ms. Murkowski said, while saying that many colleagues hadn’t yet “been read into it.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that she was “rooting” for Senate success in its emerging bipartisan infrastructure package, but she also would not commit to moving that same measure through the House unchanged.
“The point is, we haven’t seen it,” she said at a news conference.
The Senate this week also has to deal with a more than $2 billion emergency spending bill to pay for security costs at the U.S. Capitol stemming from the Jan. 6 riot by supporters of former President Donald Trump and resettling Afghan nationals who assisted American forces.
It has to pass the House and Senate by the end of the week to prevent cutbacks for both the Capitol Police and the National Guard. It would take just one senator’s objection to slow down consideration of the bill for days, however.