Group of 21 Bipartisan Senators Say They Agree on ‘Framework’ for Infrastructure

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
June 17, 2021 Updated: June 17, 2021

A bipartisan senators’ group working on a major infrastructure package has more than doubled in size to 21 members, featuring 11 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

The group sought support for its emerging bipartisan proposal in a statement on Wednesday, saying the plan would not hike taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations. The senators’ announcement comes as President Joe Biden is expected to re-engage at home, following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a bilateral summit.

“We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America’s critical infrastructure challenges,” the group said.

It comes a week after a group of 10 senators—five from each caucus—said they backed a bipartisan framework for infrastructure investment.

The Republicans who currently back the bipartisan package include Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Todd Young of Indiana.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (L) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) (R) leave the office
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (L) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) (R) leave the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) following a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 9, 2021. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Democratic senators include Chris Coons of Delaware, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Warner of Virginia, and Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

The cost of the agreement has not yet been disclosed. The White House and Senate leaders would still need to sign off on the plan, which reportedly comes in at under $1 trillion.

News of the additional Republican backing is significant. With 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, the group for the first time shows the potential for a bipartisan accord that could theoretically reach the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, which is now evenly split 50-50, that’s needed to advance bills.

“We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs without raising taxes,” the bipartisan group said. “We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America’s critical infrastructure challenges.”

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates called a briefing with Senate Democrats who back the infrastructure framework “productive and encouraging.”

“They look forward to briefing the president tomorrow after his return to the White House and continuing to consult with Senators and Representatives on the path forward,” Bates said.

Separately, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Democratic members of the Budget Committee to discuss the partisan process of reconciliation, which would allow Senate Democrats to bypass the 60-vote filibuster if all Democrats approve the package.

“There was universal agreement we have a lot of things we have to do to help the American people, and we have to have unity to do it,” Schumer told reporters after the meeting. “Good first meeting.”

Manchin, however, has expressed that he will not support reconciliation, leaving Schumer short at least one required Democrat vote.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he is yet to review the offer from the bipartisan group of senators.

“I honestly haven’t seen it. I don’t know what the details are,” the president said as he boarded Air Force One in Geneva. “I know that my chief of staff thinks there’s some room, that there may be a means by which to get this done.”

“I’m still hoping we can put together the two bookends here,” Biden added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.