Senators Say They Have Deal on ‘Major Issues’ During Infrastructure Talks

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
July 28, 2021 Updated: July 28, 2021

Several Republican senators say they’ve come to a tentative agreement on a more than $1 trillion infrastructure package that has been touted as bipartisan.

“We now have an agreement on the major issues. We are prepared to move forward,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), one of the Republican negotiators, told reporters in Washington. Portman made the comment on July 28 after holding a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), saying the GOP leader is open to the accord.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a member of the group, told reporters that lawmakers are creating the text of the package. “I think we’re good to go.”

Since the package was announced several weeks ago by President Joe Biden, Republican and Democrat senators have been working on several key issues, including how the package would be funded.

Also on July 28, senators told media outlets the measure is expected to cost $1.2 trillion over eight years, or $974 billion over five years.

“We are still finalizing the details, but we have reached agreement on the major issues,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said. “I am delighted that we’ve been able to come together as a bipartisan group.”

Biden met at the White House on July 27 with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), a leader of moderate Democrats who’ve been working to strike an infrastructure deal with Republican senators. The president also used several tweets to prod lawmakers, including one saying, “There are no Democratic roads or Republican bridges—infrastructure impacts us all and I believe we’ve got to come together to find solutions.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden and Sinema “are very much aligned on the path forward” and expressed optimism, but also said the president was “not setting new deadlines” for a deal.

Even Republicans are divided over the infrastructure measure and what a failure of the bipartisan talks would mean as both parties eye 2022 elections in which House and Senate control are fully in play.

Some Republicans worry that approval of a bipartisan infrastructure plan would help Democrats pass their $3.5 trillion environmental and anti-poverty measure by making moderate Democrats more prone to cooperate with their colleagues on that subsequent, costlier legislation. Democrats have suggested that they would use the budget reconciliation procedure to pass the measure, which requires a simple majority.

Meanwhile, if the bill passes in the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told ABC News on July 25 that unless the $3.5 trillion bill is passed, the House won’t even hold a debate on the $1 trillion infrastructure measure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.