Biden has given the group a maximum of 10 days to figure it out. Though they announced that there was top-line agreement for their ideas at the end of last week, they didn’t give any specifics of what those ideas were.
Now they’re filtering out. Sen. Rob Portman told reporters yesterday that they are “proposing $63 billion in new net revenue from enhanced tax enforcement, generated through $40 billion in extra IRS funding.” Biden wants double that amount of new funding for the IRS—$80 billion—which the White House estimates could bring in $700 billion in revenue. Portman also said that a big chunk of the funding—more than $100 billion—would be from “repurposed” COVID-19 relief.
The White House hasn’t absolutely ruled out using any of that funding, but White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when announcing that Biden was ending his direct talks with Republican Shelley Moore Capito, “We are worried that major cuts in COVID relief funds could imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals using this money to get back on their feet after the crush of the pandemic.” The U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, and National Association of Counties are adamantly opposed to this idea, and have made sure leadership and every member of Congress knows it.
According to one Republican, this deal has just $10 billion for electric vehicle charging stations—that’s the scope of climate change-related provisions in it, apparently. As a benchmark, Biden’s original proposal for $2.25 trillion on the American Jobs Plan includes $115 billion to modernize the bridges, highways, and roads of the fossil fuel age. It has another $85 billion for public transit, $80 billion for Amtrak, and $174 billion to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, to electrify 20% of school buses, and to electrify the federal fleet. He’d spend $100 billion on broadband, $25 billion for airports, and $111 billion for water projects.
How much of that ends up being in the reconciliation bill (assuming a bipartisan bill doesn’t happen, a safe assumption) is up to this group and what they consider a “unity” budget:
As far as that two-track process goes, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a solid idea: Should the Senate pass a watered down bipartisan bill, the House should hold it until the Senate approves the reconciliation bill with the critical stuff. “The certainty of that second piece is going to determine a lot on our stand for the bipartisan piece,” she told reporters. That should be doable—it is in line with what Yarmuth told reporters as well, with his assumption that everything would end up in a reconciliation bill anyway.
After all these infrastructure weeks having gone by, it finally looks like it’s going to happen. Whether the tortuous negotiations, the clear bad faith of Republicans, and the determination of their fellow Democrats is enough to finally bring Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin around remains to be seen.