White House advisers huddle with Senate moderates on infrastructure

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Top White House officials, including senior adviser Steve Ricchetti and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, met with a group of Senate moderates Tuesday afternoon in hopes of making more progress on a bipartisan infrastructure package.

Republican and Democratic senators were tight-lipped leaving a meeting earlier in the day in Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) Hart Building office, and significant differences remain between the lawmakers and the White House on how to pay for a proposed package that would cost about $974 billion over five years.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said shortly before a noontime vote that there are still several areas that need to be ironed out before reaching a deal, but he expressed optimism.

“All positive, all bumpy,” he said after emerging from the first meeting with White House staff.

“We’re still going to continue,” he added.

A Republican lawmaker in the room said White House officials expressed the kind of objections one “would expect” to some of the proposed pay-fors but that the negotiators would continue to talk.

“The meeting goes on. We’re not done yet,” the GOP senator added.

As the Senate started a vote series around noon, a group of senators including Tester, Sinema, Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) headed down to the Capitol basement to meet with White House advisers in a group of hideaway offices clustered in a dimly lit hallway.

The meeting was paused when the Senate sounded the bell for the second of the midday vote series, leading to some confusion as administration officials and senators shuttled in and out of hideaway offices.

At one point, Tester popped his head out into the hallway looking for Warner’s hideaway, where Ricchetti was seen ducking in moments earlier.

Tags Brian Deese Infrastructure Jeanne Shaheen Jon Tester Kyrsten Sinema Lisa Murkowski Mark Warner Rob Portman Steve Ricchetti Susan Collins

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