Are Senate Republicans still on board with President Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes at least some new spending?
I hesitate to say 'yes' because we all know the GOP could still change their mind at the last minute, but the removal of certain provisions from the deal is an encouraging sign.
Republicans say the White House has agreed to remove funding for hiring additional IRS agents to increase tax enforcement, but they also acknowledge that Democrats can pass that in their own reconciliation bill.
Bipartisan negotiators have dropped stronger tax enforcement from the $579 billion infrastructure bill that Democrats want to advance this week as Republicans seek to finalize how the plan will be paid for, a key GOP senator said. [...]
Even without the tax enforcement provisions, there are other ways to finance the plan, [Senator Rob Portman] said.
“And in terms of IRS reform, or IRS tax gap, which is what was in the original proposal, that will no longer be in our proposal,” he said. “It will be in the larger reconciliation bill, we are told.”
It's convenient for both the White House and GOP that anything they can't agree on can simply be offloaded into a reconciliation bill that one side is happy to support and the other side using as a dumping ground for things they should but don't support.
None of this necessarily means enough GOP senators will vote for the final bipartisan deal, but if they don't they're going to look awfully bad. The White House agreed to pursue a significantly smaller deal with them and remove provisions they don't like. They could still say 'No,' but that won't look good on the midterm campaign trail.
If Senate Republicans ultimately kill the bipartisan deal, it will just be combined with the reconciliation bill that's taking shape and all of it will pass anyway. Even Joe Manchin won't be able to say 'no' if the GOP backs out their deal now.
Congressional Democrats are planning to advance their bills as soon as this week and we're going to find out what the GOP is really willing to support very soon.
“We have a situation now in our country where we do have crumbling infrastructure,” [Portman] said. “It’s hurting our efficiency, therefore our productivity and our competitiveness. China spends about three or four times more on infrastructure than we do, as an example.”
And who is to blame for that?