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) TesterOvernight Health Care — Biden mandate faces Dem resistance White House: Biden would veto GOP resolution to nix vaccine mandate Second Senate Democrat to back vote against Biden vaccine mandate MORE (D-Mont.) when asked about the timeline for the legislative text.

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters that Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaManchin warns about inflation as Democrats pursue Biden spending bill Minimum tax proposal drives wedge between corporate interests Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote 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 BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE at the White House, into legislative text.

Sinema and Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill GOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision 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.

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 ThuneHouse approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike McConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal McConnell 'confident' 10 GOP senators will back debt 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 SandersSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill White House 'strongly opposes' Senate resolution to stop Saudi arms sale 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.