- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A bipartisan group of senators reached a final agreement on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package Wednesday, although it remains to be seen if there are enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican at the forefront of the negotiations, announced the deal shortly after Democratic Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said a vote to begin debate on the package could be held by the end of the day.

“We now have an agreement on the major issues,” said Mr. Portman, who met with White House staffers to finalize the deal late Tuesday.

While final details have yet to be released, the package will run upwards of $1.2 trillion, with more than $579 billion coming from new revenue.

Mr. Portman said the group was able to account for the new funding without raising taxes, a key metric for GOP support.

It remains to be seen whether the deal will garner sufficient support from Republicans to overcome a likely filibuster. To succeed, at least 10 GOP senators need to vote for the measure with all 50 Democrats in the evenly split Senate.

Complicating the passage of an infrastructure deal is Democrats’ preparations for another $3.5 trillion bill for a host of new and expanded social welfare programs, including health care, climate change and anti-poverty initiatives.

Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, said he was teeing up the vote, which would be the second time the chamber attempted to take up the infrastructure package.

“Members should be prepared to vote again on cloture on the motion to proceed to the bipartisan infrastructure bill as early as tonight,” he said.

Last week, Mr. Schumer’s attempt to force a vote to start debate on the still unfinished package was defeated by a Republican filibuster. GOP negotiators, like Mr. Romney, voted against it because there wasn’t a solid agreement on what would be in the bill.

At least one GOP senator, who opposed Mr. Schumer’s motion last week, plans to flip when a second vote is held.

“I am certainly planning on voting for it, and I think that there is a strong solid number of folks on both sides of the aisle that want to get on to an infrastructure package,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican. “In fairness, there’s still, there’s still a lot that many of our colleagues haven’t been read into.”

Ms. Murkowski said she was hopeful there would be an “opportunity” to brief other lawmakers on the negotiations as the day progressed. She added that if that occurred, it would not be impossible for a vote to be held Wednesday evening.

“I don’t think it’s too early, [but] Schumer is going to be the one that sets it,” said Ms. Murkowski.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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