Nearly a dozen Republican U.S. senators have joined Democrats in the chamber to support a fledgling bipartisan compromise to spend hundreds of billions to repair and upgrade various infrastructure across the United States.
Eleven GOP senators signed onto the framework of a deal to support a $1 trillion package that targets transportation, broadband Internet and water upgrades without raising corporate taxes.
The proposal is a compromise to President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which aims to upgrade critical U.S. infrastructure in need of repairs, like roadways, bridges and tunnels.
Republican support for Biden’s plan has been rare and Wednesday’s agreement marked a significant shift in the chances for a bipartisan effort on infrastructure.
“We support this bipartisan framework that provides a historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs without raising taxes,” the Republican and Democratic senators said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America’s critical infrastructure challenges.”
The bipartisan proposal is widely viewed as the last chance for Republicans to be part of the infrastructure plan before Democrats move to pass a package on their own.
In his plan, Biden called for hiking the corporate tax rate from 21% to 25% to pay for the upgrades. Republicans cut that rate to 21% in 2017 and have resisted all attempts by Democrats to use it as a funding source for the plan.
The GOP senators who pledged their support Wednesday are Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
Independent Maine Sen. Angus King also signed the statement of support.
Some liberal Democratic senators have threatened to oppose the bill because it doesn’t address climate change and income inequality issues. Some have also called for new investments in clean energy and social programs in the package.
Biden said Wednesday he feels there’s still a chance for a bipartisan infrastructure package and talks are expected to resume Thursday.
Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer has said Democrats might still use the budget reconciliation process to pass Biden’s more expensive plan. That track allows Democrats to pass legislation with a simple majority, but it imposes some restrictions on what may be included.
Democrats used budget reconciliation to pass Biden’s American Rescue Plan in March, but the Senate parliamentarian said last month they can use the process only one more time to pass legislation in 2021.
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