Washington — Republicans working on the bipartisan infrastructure deal rebuffed an offer from their Democratic counterparts and the White House to address the remaining issues in the talks, according to a GOP source familiar with the discussions, with negotiations over the details of the nearly $600 billion plan growing tenuous.
The GOP source said Republican senators made “very reasonable, good-faith offers” throughout the ongoing discussions and said their own proposal to Democrats and the White House was “met with silence” for three days.
“The ‘global offer’ we received from the White House and Chuck Schumer was discouraging since it attempts to reopen numerous issues the bipartisan group had already agreed to,” the GOP source said. “If this is going to be successful, the White House will need to show more flexibility as Republicans have done and listen to the members of the group that produced this framework.”
A Democratic source close to the talks confirmed that Democratic Senate negotiators and the White House made their “global offer” to Republicans that sought to resolve outstanding issues Sunday.
The group of senators 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 senatorsin 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 appeared 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 Bidenwith 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.