JOE Biden has confirmed "we have a deal" on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan – as pictures show Kamala Harris awkwardly lurking in the background.
The president told reporters on Thursday: "A group of senators – five Democrats and five Republicans – has come together and forged an infrastructure agreement that will create millions of American jobs.”
Biden made a surprise appearance in front of the cameras with members of the group after an agreement was reached on Thursday.
Images show the Vice President did not take part in the photo op, instead watching over the announcement from afar.
The pared-down plan, with $559 billion in new spending, has rare bipartisan backing and could open the door to the president’s more sweeping $4 trillion proposals later on.
Biden said not everyone got what they wanted and that other White House priorities would be done separately in a congressional budget process known as reconciliation
“We’ve struck a deal,” Biden then tweeted. “A group of senators – five Democrats and five Republicans – has come together and forged an infrastructure agreement that will create millions of American jobs.”
Biden has sought $1.7 trillion in his American Jobs Plan, part of nearly $4 trillion in broad infrastructure spending on roads, bridges and broadband internet.
The senators have struggled over how to pay for the new spending.
With Republicans opposed to Biden’s proposed corporate tax rate increase, from 21% to 28%, the group has looked at other ways to raise revenue.
Biden rejected their idea to allow gas taxes paid at the pump to rise with inflation, viewing it as a financial burden on American drivers.
The broad reconciliation bill would likely include tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, so a tension still exists over funding for some Republicans and business groups.
Biden’s top aides had met with senators for back-to-back meetings on Capitol Hill and later huddled with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The agreement comes with a complex legislative push. Pelosi on Thursday welcomed the bipartisan package, but she warned that it must be paired with the president’s bigger goals now being prepared by Congress under a separate so-called the budget reconciliation process.
“This is important,” Pelosi said. “There ain’t going to be a bipartisan bill without a reconciliation bill,”
The Democratic leader vowed the House would not vote on it until the Senate had dealt with both packages.
The major hurdle for a bipartisan agreement has been financing.
Biden demanded no new taxes on anyone making less than $400,000, while Republican lawmakers were unwilling to raise taxes beyond such steps as indexing the gasoline tax to inflation. But senators departed for the White House Thursday with a sense of confidence that funding issues had been addressed.
“We’re still refining the details, but from my perspective, it is paid for,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican and one of 10 lawmakers who met with Biden for roughly 30 minutes.
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