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The White House announces a “potential agreement” on infrastructure discussions

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The White House said a “potential deal” with bipartisan negotiators in Congress was within the reach of an infrastructure investment package that is supposed to exceed $ 1 a tonne, in a move that could advance a piece of the core. of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

After days of discussions between senior Biden administration officials and a group of Democratic senators and centrist Republicans on Capitol Hill, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, signaled late Wednesday that an agreement could be reached.

“The White House senior staff had two productive meetings today with the bipartisan group of senators who were negotiating over infrastructure,” Psaki said. “The group has made progress toward a scheme of a potential deal, and the chair has invited the group to come to the White House tomorrow to discuss this in person.”

The agreement in question will increase funding for the physical infrastructure including roads, bridges and broadband networks, but would be a far cry from the more expansive $ 2.3 tn infrastructure plan presented by Biden at the end of March.

Republicans have refused to pay him to stand up corporate taxes as proposed by the White House, therefore any agreement is expected to be based on the redistribution of unused pandemic stimulus funds and other sources of revenue to cover the cost. However, the final details are uncertain.

Even if an agreement is finalized between the moderate senators and the White House, it could face some difficulty in obtaining approval in Congress. The leadership of both parties should agree to be able to resist defections from Republicans opposed to any new spending and from progressive Democrats who believe it is not enough to correct the problems plaguing America’s aging infrastructure and address it. climate change.

“We can’t let the infrastructure train leave the station without investing in childcare and clean energy – or without making billionaires and giant corporations pay their fair share of taxes, ”Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, wrote Wednesday.

If approved, the reduced bipartisan infrastructure package is still expected to be followed by a more ambitious – and costly – effort by Biden to pass the rest of its economic agenda, worth another $ 3 billion, only with democratic votes in Congress.

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That will cover long-term investments in childcare, education, research and development and other democratic priorities to restructure the economy, which are expected to be paid for with higher taxes on rich individuals and corporations.

However, Biden’s party holds a very subtle majority in the House of Representatives, and has a uniformly divided advantage in the Senate because Kamala Harris, vice president, votes every vote of defeat. This presents a deceptive political balance sheet act for Biden that any package should satisfy both sides of his party.

A bipartisan infrastructure package of more than $ 1 a tonne in spending would represent an important legislative victory for the president, who has boosted his ability to make deals with Republicans during his 2020 election campaign. that moderate legislators can also lead business on Capitol Hill if there is enough political will behind the effort, despite the high levels of polarization in Congress.

Biden had initially sought to negotiate only with a group of Republican senators, but those discussions stalled earlier this month. Bipartisan lawmakers who have taken the mantle include Mitt Romney, the Utah senator, and Rob Portman, the Ohio senator. On the Democratic side Joe Manchin, the senator from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema, the senator from Arizona, led the speeches.

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Rana Foroohar and Edward Luce discuss major issues at the intersection of money and power in U.S. politics every Monday and Friday. Subscribe to the newsletter here


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