Senators Say They’re Nearing Agreement on Infrastructure Plan


The bipartisan group of senators trying come up with an infrastructure compromise say they are moving closer to agreement on a proposal but are still wrangling with how to pay for their plan in the face of White House opposition to indexing the gasoline tax to inflation.

Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and one of the leaders of the group, said Monday the senators are requesting a meeting with White House officials on Tuesday and plan to draw up a “fleshed out” framework for a proposal this week.

Senators Say They’re Nearing Agreement on Infrastructure Plan

One of the sticking points continues to be coming up with a way to pay for their $579 billion plan. Two of the negotiators, Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, and Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said the idea of indexing the motor fuels tax to inflation is all but dead.

The administration has been pushing Biden’s plan to bolster funding for Internal Revenue Service enforcement to collect from tax cheats. The group has proposed limited new revenue from bolstering IRS enforcement but far short of the amount the White House estimates could be recouped in unpaid taxes. Portman said they also are looking at raising revenue from airwaves sales and fees from major polluters.

There are disagreements about how much stricter tax collections would bring in. The U.S. Treasury Department estimated that wealthy taxpayers as a group are hiding billions of dollars of income. The administration estimates that giving the IRS $80 billion more in funding would raise $700 billion in additional revenue over a decade. But not all experts agree with that estimate and Republicans are balking at giving the agency $80 billion over 10 years.

The Congressional Budget Offices has estimated that giving the IRS $40 billion -- as the bipartisan Senate group has proposed -- would yield $103 billion in revenue for a net $63 billion

“There’s lots of conversation on the tax gap issue,” said Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, a member of the bipartisan group. Tester said he thought a deal could come together among the group by Tuesday afternoon.

Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican and another member, said: “There are a number of payfors that we’ve been able to add to the list and I think we’re going to get there.”

Biden on Monday met separately at the White House with two Democratic moderates, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, according to a White House official.

Biden and Manchin, the official said, discussed voting rights and how to advance a bill in the evenly divided Senate. They also talked about infrastructure. The meeting with Sinema also concerned infrastructure, the official added.

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