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Senate negotiators move to finalize details of infrastructure deal

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Washington — Democratic senators and White House officials negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure deal put forth a “global offer” to their Republican colleagues Sunday addressing all remaining issues, according to a Democratic source close to the talks, as members continue working toward an agreement on the nearly $600 billion plan.

The group of senators involved in the talks are still negotiating several disputed items, including money for highways and bridges, water infrastructure, transit, broadband and using unspent COVID-19 pandemic relief money to pay for the infrastructure measure, according to the Democratic source. Also outstanding is a requirement that contractors and subcontractors working on federally funded contracts pay their workers no less than the “locally prevailing wages” for work on similar projects, the source said.

Senate negotiators suggested last week that Monday would be the day in which a deal on the details of the bipartisan infrastructure framework would be reached after GOP senators blocked an effort in the upper chamber to advance the plan.

Republicans said the procedural vote pushed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week to begin consideration of the infrastructure bill was premature, as they were still working to hammer out the details and craft legislative text to be analyzed by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. 

But even with several provisions still being negotiated, Democrats and Republicans involved in the discussions remain optimistic they are on the cusp of reaching a deal on the bipartisan plan.

GOP Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a lead negotiator for Republicans, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday the two sides remained at odds on money for mass transit, but said senators are “about 90% of the way there.”

“I feel good about getting that done this week,” he said. 

Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, meanwhile, predicted the details would be finalized Monday afternoon and said negotiators are “down to the last couple of items.”

President Biden announced a deal with the bipartisan group of senators on the infrastructure plan last month, and in the weeks since, White House officials have been working with lawmakers on the details of the measure, which is a pillar of the president’s economic agenda.

Though the effort to begin debate on the plan failed in the Senate last week, Schumer moved to allow for another vote to be held at a future date.

During a press conference Sunday, Schumer declined to say whether that vote would be held Monday, instead urging reporters to “stay tuned.”

“The bottom line is we’re working hard on both parts. Progress is being made on” the bipartisan infrastructure plan and a larger $3.5 trillion package, he said.

The White House and Democratic leaders are pushing for the two major pieces of legislation — the roughly $600 billion infrastructure measure and the broader $3.5 trillion plan — to move through Congress on a dual track. Both measures make up a significant portion of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda, and the president has said they will help create jobs and drive economic growth.

The more sweeping bill is set to include the president’s plans for health care, child care, education and climate and will be passed using a process called budget reconciliation, allowing it to be approved by the Senate with only Democratic support.

Schumer last week said he has “every intention” of passing both infrastructure packages before Congress leaves town for the August recess.


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