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US senators said they have resolved the biggest sticking points in talks on a $1tn bipartisan infrastructure bill, with a new vote on one of US President Joe Biden’s top economic priorities possible later on Wednesday.
“We now have an agreement on the major issues,” Rob Portman, a Republican senator from Ohio, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, flanked by other members of his party.
Portman spoke shortly after Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, informed members of the upper chamber of Congress that they might have to hold a new procedural vote to advance the legislation on Wednesday evening, after the first one failed last week.
Portman, a former US trade representative under George W Bush, has emerged as the lead negotiator of the deal on the Republican side, and has been locked in talks with Steve Ricchetti, one of Biden’s top aides, in recent days to resolve the last remaining hurdles.
One of the biggest obstacles to a final agreement in recent days related to funding for mass transit. Democrats have pushed for higher spending, which Republicans have resisted.
If approved, the bipartisan infrastructure deal would be a big victory for Biden. The president has continued to push for an agreement to advance his economic agenda and prove that he can deliver cross-party deals, even as progressive Democrats asked him to ditch talks with Republicans that have dragged on for weeks.
The bipartisan deal would deliver additional spending for roads, bridges, waterworks and broadband networks over the next 10 years. However, it falls short of the expansive investments on climate, education and child care proposed by Biden this year.
The US president plans to tackle the remaining elements of his economic agenda, worth about $3.5tn, in separate legislation that would be funded by tax increases on wealthy individuals and corporations. He hopes to push the bill through using a special parliamentary procedure that will allow passage with a simple majority of Democrats.
In order for the bipartisan infrastructure deal to be enacted, it will need to get at least 60 votes in the Senate during the procedural vote. It would then advance to a final vote later this week or this weekend.