White House 'encouraged' by infrastructure progress

White House 'encouraged' by infrastructure progress
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The White House says it is encouraged by progress toward a finalized bipartisan infrastructure deal even as Republicans blocked the Senate from debating the bill before it was ready on Wednesday afternoon.

“We are encouraged to see the comments of Sen. [Mitt] Romney (R-Utah) this morning,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiSenators scramble to save infrastructure deal Overnight Health Care: New round of vaccine mandates | Health groups call for mandates for all health workers | Rising case count reignites debate over restrictions On The Money: Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds | Trump tells Republicans to walk away | GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden MORE told reporters aboard Air Force One. “We understand this is a legislative process and it’s ongoing.”

Psaki said that President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE is “eager to deliver these economic benefits that Americans in red states and blue states have deserved for so long.”

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Psaki was referring to comments made by Romney earlier Wednesday about the bipartisan group closing on a final deal.

“Almost everything is resolved. ... We will have another vote I hope next week and we’ll be able to proceed to the bill. We have enough Republicans, 10 or 12 or more Republicans, that are supportive of going on the bill,” Romney said.

Later, as Biden was touring an electrical training center in Cincinnati, he expressed optimism at the pathway forward on infrastructure. Biden replied “yes we will” when asked by a reporter if he would get the infrastructure deal done. 

Biden endorsed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure framework, which includes $579 billion in new spending, following a meeting with the bipartisan group of senators at the White House last month, but the negotiators have been struggling to hammer out the final details over the past few weeks.

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-N.Y.) set up a vote on Wednesday to begin debate on the measure, but Republicans voted against doing so because the text of the bill had not been finished. The 49-51 vote fell short of the 60 needed to overcome the legislative filibuster.

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Democrats are trying to move the infrastructure proposal and a separate $3.5 trillion budget bill that they’ll pass through reconciliation without GOP support as quickly as possible ahead of the August recess.

The White House backed Schumer’s decision to hold the vote, describing it as part of normal operations in the Senate. Psaki pointed to other bills where lawmakers have moved to begin debate without the legislative text, like a measure to address anti-Asian hate crimes that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this week.

While Biden and his aides were flying to Ohio on Wednesday, the bipartisan group issued a statement saying they are close to a final agreement following the vote.

“We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement,” the group of 22 senators said. “We will continue working hard to ensure we get this critical legislation right—and are optimistic that we will finalize, and be prepared to advance, this historic bipartisan proposal to strengthen America’s infrastructure and create good-paying jobs in the coming days. We appreciate our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the administration, working with us to get this done for the American people.”

Asked to react to the statement, Psaki told reporters that it was a “positive sign.”

“We have been encouraged ... by the progress and grateful for the work of both the Democrats and Republicans involved,” she said.

Updated: 6:10 p.m.