The White House and a bipartisan group of senators have reached an agreement on an infrastructure proposal, President Joe Biden announced Thursday.
“We’ve struck a deal,” Mr. Biden tweeted. “A group of senators — five Democrats and five Republicans — has come together and forged an infrastructure agreement that will create millions of American jobs.”
During a short press conference Thursday in front of the White House, Mr. Biden and the 10 senators said each side had to compromise in order to reach the agreement. “None of us got all that we wanted, I clearly didn’t get all I wanted, they gave more than I think maybe they were inclined to give in the first place, but this reminds me of the days we used to get an awful lot done in the United State Congress,” Mr. Biden said.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the framework, which includes $579 billion in new spending, is for “core infrastructure,” and will upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges, water, broadband and rail systems “without new taxes.”
The White House put out a fact sheet on the framework Thursday afternoon that mentioned it will also build a national network of electric vehicle chargers, electrify thousands of school and transit buses, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes, and prepare more of the nation’s infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, cyberattacks and extreme weather events.
To pay for the infrastructure investments, Mr. Biden said at a separate press conference Thursday afternoon that taxes would not be raised on anyone earning below $400,000, nor would the gas tax be raised. The White House fact sheet includes a host of ways the framework would be paid for, like repurposing unused relief funds from 2020 emergency relief legislation and “public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds and asset recycling for infrastructure investment.”
Though a bipartisan agreement has been reached, the package will need 60 votes in the Senate to pass, which is no guarantee. When asked about whether Democrats will support the bipartisan agreement Mr. Biden added, “My party is divided, but my party is also rational. If they can’t get every single thing they want but the bill before them is good, are they going to vote no? I don’t think so.”
Regardless, Democrats, which have slim majorities in the House and Senate, will aim to pass all of Mr. Biden’s infrastructure agenda.
Mr. Biden and members of his team met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday to discuss the administration’s legislative priorities, including the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, which focuses on things like paid leave and education, according to a White House brief.
“They agreed that Congress must meet the president’s goal of investing in creating a generation of good paying jobs, addressing the climate crisis, and ensuring American workers and businesses can compete globally, while not raising taxes on anyone who makes under $400,000,” the brief said. “They discussed the two-track approach, and the importance of a budget resolution to meeting the full range of the president’s priorities.”
The House will not take up an infrastructure bill “until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill,” Ms. Pelosi said during a Thursday press conference. “If there is no bipartisan bill then we’ll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill.”
Passing a bill through reconciliation only requires a simple majority in the Senate as opposed to the traditional 60 votes.
The president said he supports Ms. Pelosi’s approach. “I’m not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting the rest I proposed,” he said.
Mr. Biden in March proposed the $2.2 trillion American Jobs Plan, which focused on infrastructure investments and tackling the climate crisis. To pay for the plan in part, Mr. Biden called for raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%.
Republicans on Capitol Hill, who in 2017 passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that reduced the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%, have pushed back against raising taxes on corporations. Some moderate Democrats, like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., have also come out against raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, though he said he could support a smaller raise.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.