Bipartisan Senate group to finalize infrastructure bill this week

Bipartisan Senate group to finalize infrastructure bill this week
© Greg Nash

Members of a bipartisan group of lawmakers said Tuesday they expect to finalize their $1.2 trillion, eight-year infrastructure deal by the end of the week.

“By Friday for sure. Hopefully we’ll even have it by Thursday,” said Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor GOP blocks infrastructure debate as negotiators near deal GOP negotiators say they'll vote to start infrastructure debate next week MORE (D-Mont.) when asked about the timeline for the legislative text.

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters that Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor CBC honors Black women advocates amid voting rights battle GOP blocks infrastructure debate as negotiators near deal MORE (D-Ariz.), who has been leading the bipartisan negotiation, told Democrats during a closed-door lunch that “we can get to the goal that I proposed, that we have legislation ready by Friday.”

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The timeline comes after a source told The Hill that the bill could come to the floor as soon as the week of July 19.

Members of the bipartisan group of 22 lawmakers have been negotiating behind the scenes to try to turn their framework, which they announced with President BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE at the White House, into legislative text.

Sinema and Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Key Biden ally OK with dropping transit from infrastructure package Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag MORE (R-Ohio) met on Monday night, and the larger group of bipartisan negotiators is expected to meet again on Tuesday.

The group has faced skepticism from progressives, who want an “ironclad” understanding on a separate Democrats-only bill in order to support the smaller proposal.

But Republicans are wary of helping pass a bipartisan deal if it also enables Democrats to pass a multitrillion-dollar package under reconciliation, which allows them to bypass the 60-vote filibuster.

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Republicans are also skeptical that the bipartisan group will be able to pay for all of its proposed spending. Republican negotiators have acknowledged that the Congressional Budget Office score is likely to come in lower than they would like.

“There’s also I think a belief, a widely held belief, in our conference that we ought to do everything we can to get credible offsets to help pay for it, and at this point I would say it's still an open question about whether they'll be able to get many of these to score,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration builds as infrastructure talks drag On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters.

The bipartisan bill is one of two tracks currently being pursued by Democrats as they try to enact Biden’s sweeping jobs and families plan.

In addition to the bipartisan bill, Democrats want to use reconciliation to pass a larger infrastructure bill along party lines.

Schumer has vowed to hold a vote before the August recess on the bipartisan bill and a budget resolution that tees up Democrats using reconciliation for a second infrastructure bill.

Schumer met with Senate Budget Committee Democrats, led by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (I-Vt.), on Monday night. The group will meet again on Tuesday night as they try to craft a budget resolution.

Democrats haven’t unveiled what the price tag will be for their reconciliation bill, something they need to work out before they roll out the budget resolution.