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Biparty Senate group reaches interim infrastructure deal, but skepticism prevails

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of 10 senators said on Thursday they had reached an interim infrastructure deal, but Republicans ‘skepticism and Democrats’ impatience left their outlook uncertain as lawmakers left for the weekend.

“We are discussing our approach with our respective colleagues and the White House, and remain optimistic that this can lay the groundwork for garnering broad support from both sides and meeting America’s infrastructure needs,” said a joint statement from the group, which includes Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona; Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont.

The deal includes $ 579 billion in new spending for a total of $ 1.2 trillion in infrastructure funding over eight years, according to two sources familiar with the talks, who requested anonymity to share the details.

Senators said in their statement that it “would be fully paid and would not include tax increases.” They have stepped up their work after talks broke down between President Joe Biden and Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., this week.

Other members of the group are Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine; Senator Mark Warner, D-Va .; Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La .; Senator Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H. ; Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va.

But other senators seemed skeptical.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Republican leadership, said an agreement among the 10 senators would be “a pretty low step towards a deal” that can get 60 votes to pass the chamber.

Any deal would likely need the backing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., To attract the 10 Republicans needed to defeat a filibuster. The failure of the Capito talks, which included many McConnell MPs, was a warning sign for the bipartisan outlook.

Republicans are trying to weigh the politics of the talks and whether they might be seen as too resistant or too too little.

“I’m staying open-minded. It’s the best bet we have right now for something that doesn’t just get something stuck in our throats,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, RN.D.

But Cramer also voiced his skepticism, saying Capito’s effort was “the best chance” of securing a broad Republican deal on an infrastructure package.

Democrats are not on the same wavelength about what should happen next, with some insisting they will not support a deal that excludes priorities such as clean energy investments to fight change climate.

“There is no guarantee that there will be 50 Democratic votes for anything this group comes up with,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

“From my point of view: no climate. No bill. No deal,” said Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass.

Some Democrats are trying to pressure their leaders to drop bipartisan talks and instead push through a partisan bill, but there is also no guarantee that there will be 50 Democratic votes for the tactic.

As he left the Capitol on Thursday, Manchin declined to say how he would vote if Democrats began to come up with a package without Republicans.

“I didn’t even think about it,” Manchin told NBC News.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said Thursday that party leaders are “not counting” the votes, meaning there has not yet been a lobbying campaign for put them in unison.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, who faces re-election next year, said he prefers a bipartisan deal as “the first option,” without removing the simple majority approach from the table.

Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., Said he was “very comfortable” with using the anti-obstruction process to pass an infrastructure package and that it would not preclude earning a certain amount. GOP support along the way.

“I like bipartisan discussions. If we can make a bipartisan bill, that’s great. Even if we can’t make a bipartisan bill, the fact that there have been discussions – we will incorporate the wisdom of those discussions into a reconciliation bill, and it will be a better bill as a result of that, ”Kaine said.

“Even if we go through reconciliation, I think it’s going to be very popular with Republican governors, very popular with Republican mayors,” he said. “I hope we get Republican votes.”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Said he wanted to start the process without Republicans and pass a bill “as quickly as possible.”

“Time is running out,” Sanders said.

Julie tsirkin contributed.

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