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Pelosi, Schumer to talk infrastructure with White House officials

▶ Watch Video: Breaking down President Biden’s domestic agenda, voting rights and infrastructure

Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are meeting with White House officials on Wednesday to discuss the next steps in passing President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar infrastructure proposal as negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators continue.

The group of 21 senators, 10 Democrats and 11 Republicans, has reached an agreement on an infrastructure proposal costing roughly $1 trillion, with $579 billion in new spending. However, the negotiators remain at an impasse over funding. The White House legislative team met with this group of senators in the Capitol basement on Tuesday for another round of talks.

“While progress was made, more work remains to be done,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said after the meeting. She added that the White House team will likely meet with the bipartisan group again Wednesday, although timing is unclear, as many senators will be attending the funeral of former Senator John Warner in the morning.

Mr. Biden has rejected the Republican suggestion of indexing the gas tax to inflation, while GOP senators remain staunchly opposed to the president’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate.

The bipartisan proposal would be narrowly focused on “traditional” infrastructure priorities such as roads, bridges, funding transportation and expanding broadband, with some spending on electric vehicle charging stations, a priority for Mr. Biden. It is still significantly smaller than Mr. Biden’s $1.7 trillion American Jobs Plan, and does not include priorities from his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan.

Republican Senator John Thune, the minority whip, told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that the White House appeared to reject some options for pay-fors during the meeting with senators, such as an infrastructure bank.

“I think some of the earlier discussions today took them, you know, three steps forward, two steps back, and maybe took a step backward today,” Thune said. “But I think the they’re committed, and I think where’s a will there’s a way, and if the White House really wants a deal there’s a deal to be had there.”

But Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, a lead negotiator, told reporters that the potential disagreement over an infrastructure bank was “a little bit more nuanced than that.”

The White House has also floated tax gap enforcement as a potential source of funding, although there is some disagreement over how much revenue that would yield. A report by the Congressional Budget Office that found that $40 billion in enforcement spending could net $63 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, Republicans have suggested using unspent funds from previous coronavirus relief packages, but this has largely been rejected by the White House.

But Democratic congressional leaders are also moving forward with a larger package to address Mr. Biden’s more ambitious goals related to climate change and “human” infrastructure, such as child care, education and health care. As a large bill including those aspects is unlikely to garner any Republican support, Democrats are preparing a budget resolution, the first step in the budget reconciliation process, which would allow the legislation to pass with a simple majority.

Schumer and Pelosi are expected to discuss both the bipartisan proposal and reconciliation with White House officials, a source familiar with the matter told CBS News. The reconciliation bill, assembled by Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, could be as large as $6 trillion, and is expected to include provisions like Medicare expansion, as well as the remainder of the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan not covered in the bipartisan proposal.

Jack Turman contributed reporting.



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