Senators dropped plans to help fund the approximately $1 trillion infrastructure package via a proposed boost to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ability to collect taxes, according to a key negotiator.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is one of the negotiators, told CNN on July 18 that the “IRS reform or IRS tax gap, which was originally in the proposal … will no longer be in our proposal.” Portman said some Republican lawmakers pushed back against the proposal and said it would allow for more government overreach.
“It will be in the larger reconciliation bill, we’re told,” he said.
Details about what new powers the IRS might be given haven’t yet been announced.
Democrats and Republicans have spent weeks trying to hash out the infrastructure deal, but have struggled to come up with ways to fund it and not add to the already ballooning national deficit.
Democrats hope to pass the bill via reconciliation, without Republican support, under budget rules that allow them to proceed with just a simple majority, which would require a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.
In the July 18 interview, Portman suggested that there are other possible funding sources, including a rule on Medicare rebates.
“We have a number of pay-fors,” Portman said. “And that’s important, that it be paid for.”
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which is backed by President Joe Biden, will require 60 votes in the Senate to proceed. That means it would require at least 10 Republicans, assuming all Democrats back it.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced last week that the first procedural step on the infrastructure package will be taken on July 19, setting up a July 21 vote.
But one Republican lawmaker, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), said it isn’t clear if the Senate can reach 60 votes.
“How can I vote for cloture when the bill isn’t written?” Cassidy told Fox News on July 18. “Unless Senator Schumer doesn’t want this to happen, you need a little more time to get it right.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stated last week that she won’t bring up the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor until the reconciliation bill is passed in the Senate. That led to backlash from both Republicans and Democrats.
“We strongly urge—and pledge to work with you to bring about—a House vote on this legislation before the August recess and without any unnecessary or artificial delay upon arrival from the Senate,” a coalition of 10 House Democrats said in a letter released on July 15.
Reuters contributed to this report.