Bipartisan efforts to pass an infrastructure bill through the United States Senate are on the brink of collapse, with senators from both parties struggling to salvage some sort of deal, according to The Hill.
After passing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus-related stimulus bill earlier this year, Joe Biden has made an infrastructure bill his next major domestic goal. But the specifics of the bill itself have fluctuated dramatically in recent weeks, with various proposals ranging from $1 trillion to as high as $3.5 trillion. Any possible deal would have to be acceptable to Republicans and moderate Democrats, as well as far-left Democrats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The current iteration of the bill amounts to $1.2 trillion, and has several Republicans onboard, most prominently Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Others who were supportive of the efforts include Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).
Despite widespread reports that talks were in serious trouble, most of the senators involved downplayed those fears in statements to the press on Monday evening. Portman said “We’re making progress,” and called for the media to “be a little positive.” Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said that he was “feeling bullish that it will be done by morning,” and that although there were “still outstanding issues…nobody’s bailed.”
Some of the “outstanding issues,” according to media reports, include funding for broadband, highways, and bridges, remaining COVID relief funds, and mandated minimum wage requirements for federal projects. Other issues include water funding and public transit funding.
Some of the more radical Democrats have expressed their belief that the bill won’t pass. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate Majority Whip, said that “there reaches a point if you can’t reach an agreement, you have to be honest about it.”
The bill would need more than a simple majority in order to pass. Due to the filibuster, the Democrats need at least 10 Republican senators to join them in a 60-vote majority, overriding the filibuster by other Republicans who refuse to support the bill. Republicans had previously used this tactic to kill the bill that would have created a commission to investigate the January 6th peaceful protests. Some have speculated that if this bill fails, Democrats could try to pass much of the same funding as a budget resolution, which only needs a narrow majority of 51. But some moderate Democrats, including Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have expressed their opposition to such a tactic.