‘We have an agreement,’ says Biden of the infrastructure package.

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President Joe Biden said Thursday afternoon that he had struck an agreement with a bipartisan group of senators on a plan to push a large infrastructure package through Congress, which had been stuck for weeks due to party stalemate.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with the gathering at the White House shortly before noon.

 

“We have a deal,” Biden announced to reporters gathered outside. “They have my word, I’ll stick with what they’ve proposed. And they’ve given me their word, as well. Where I come from, that’s good enough for me.”

Wednesday night, the bipartisan group of senators said they’d reached a deal with the White House on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure agreement that includes $579 billion in new spending.

The deal, supporters hope, could survive attempts by certain Democratic and Republican lawmakers to filibuster the package, which would require at least 60 votes to pass the Senate.

Biden said neither side of the negotiations “got everything they wanted” in the new proposal.

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Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden said the deal won’t include an increase on gas tax or fees on electric vehicles. It also won’t require an increase on taxes from people earning less than $400,000.

“I said many times before, there’s nothing our nation can’t do when we decide to do it together, do it as one nation. Today is the latest example of that truth, in my view,” he said.

“I’m pleased to report that a bipartisan group of senators — five Democrats, five Republicans — part of larger groups, have come together and forced an agreement that will create millions of American jobs and modernize American infrastructure to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century.”

The $1.2 trillion proposal includes $579 billion in increased expenditure during the first five years of an eight-year plan.

The accord falls well short of the $6 trillion infrastructure programme advocated for by more radical Democratic legislators. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, had previously threatened to utilise the budget reconciliation procedure to pass an infrastructure bill without Republican backing.

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Democrats used budget reconciliation to enact the American Rescue Plan in March, but the Senate parliamentarian warned this month that they can only do it once more for fiscal 2021 legislation.

It’s unclear if the more expensive approach would be supported by moderate Democrats like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who were also part of the bipartisan group that announced the accord late Wednesday.

Last week, a group of 11 Republican senators stated their support for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill backed by a handful of moderate Democrats. Some of the senators come from both parties.

The American Jobs Plan, Biden’s big infrastructure programme, was initially announced in March. It had little support from Republicans, resulting in weeks of sluggish discussions between Democratic and Republican members, as well as the White House.

 

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