White House briefed on bipartisan infrastructure deal but says questions remain
White House officials were briefed Thursday on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal reached by a group of 10 bipartisan senators earlier in the day, but it remains unclear whether President Biden will support it.
“Earlier today, White House staff were briefed by Democratic Senators working on the bipartisan agreement on infrastructure,” deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement.
“The President appreciates the Senators’ work to advance critical investments we need to create good jobs, prepare for our clean energy future, and compete in the global economy,” Bates added. “Questions need to be addressed, particularly around the details of both policy and pay-fors, among other matters.”
White House staff and Cabinet officials leading infrastructure efforts will work with the senators who are part of the group of 10 in the coming days to address the president’s questions and discuss a path forward. Biden, who is in Europe through Wednesday, is expected to engage as time allows with lawmakers involved in negotiations.
The Senate group on Thursday afternoon unveiled its “compromise framework,” which would provide $974 billion over five years and $1.2 trillion total over eight years. Sources said the framework is focused on “core, physical infrastructure” and would not increase taxes, though it includes an option to index the gas tax to inflation.
Indexing the gas tax to inflation is reportedly a non-starter for the White House, as officials believe it would violate Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually.
The Senate group is being led by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and includes Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Tester (D-Mont.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
The White House last Friday said it was cutting off talks with a group of GOP senators led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in favor of pursuing a deal with the bipartisan group in the Senate.
Biden originally proposed his $2.2 trillion American Jobs Plan in late March calling for investments in physical infrastructure, broadband, climate-friendly investments and long-term and elder care. He followed that with the American Families Plan, which would have called for $1.8 trillion in spending and new tax credits to assist with education and family care.