Biden's new bipartisan Senate infrastructure negotiation partners sound cautiously optimistic about a deal

Centrist senators
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Biden's infrastructure negotiations with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) ended Tuesday amid polite recrimination.

In a five-minute phone call with Capito, Biden "offered his gratitude to her for her efforts and good faith conversations, but expressed his disappointment that, while he was willing to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, the Republican group had increased their proposed new investments by only $150 billion," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

"While I appreciate President Biden's willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept the very robust and targeted infrastructure package," Capito said. "However, this does not mean bipartisanship isn't feasible."

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Biden and Capito did not agree on a price tag, what should be included in the package, or how to pay for the bill. But they apparently agree on the feasibility of bipartisanship. Biden is now in discussions with a group of 10 Republican and 10 Democratic senators who have been meeting to craft a backup infrastructure package.

Ten of the senators met for nearly three hours in Sen. Rob Portman's (R-Ohio) office Tuesday, and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said they made "good progress" on a five-year deal. "We went through line by line and we've got pretty good agreement on most of those and went to the pay-fors as well, and they're a little less solid," Romney said. He did not put a figure on the package, but Politico reports the group has "been closing in on a $900 billion infrastructure framework."

The group also includes Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Biden spoke several of them Tuesday, Psaki said, and he will keep in touch with the group during his European trip while designated senior White House officials and Cabinet members meet with them in person.

Biden isn't putting all his infrastructure eggs in one basket, though. He conferred with Democratic leaders Tuesday about beginning the process in July to pass infrastructure through the Senate's simple-majority budget reconciliation process, The Associated Press reports. "The president is committed to moving his economic legislation through Congress this summer, and is pursuing multiple paths to get this done," Psaki said.

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