White House announces ‘potential agreement’ on infrastructure talks

The White House said a “potential agreement” with bipartisan negotiators in Congress was within reach on an infrastructure investment package that is expected to top $1tn, in a breakthrough that could advance a core piece of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

After days of talks between senior Biden administration officials and a group of centrist Democratic and Republican senators on Capitol Hill, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, signalled late on Wednesday that a deal could be at hand.

“White House senior staff had two productive meetings today with the bipartisan group of senators who have been negotiating about infrastructure,” Psaki said. “The group made progress towards an outline of a potential agreement, and the president has invited the group to come to the White House tomorrow to discuss this in person.”

The deal being discussed would boost funding for physical infrastructure including roads, bridges and broadband networks, but would fall far short of the more expansive $2.3tn infrastructure plan presented by Biden at the end of March.

Republicans have refused to pay for it by raising corporate taxes as proposed by the White House, so any agreement is expected to rest on redeploying unused pandemic stimulus funds and other sources of revenue to cover the cost. The final details are uncertain, however.

Even if a deal is finalised between the moderate senators and the White House, it could face some difficulty winning approval in Congress. The leadership of both parties would have to agree to it so that it could withstand defections from Republicans opposed to any new spending and from progressive Democrats who believe it is insufficient to correct the problems afflicting America’s ageing infrastructure.

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