Infrastructure talks near collapse

An unofficial deadline for a bipartisan accord on infrastructure hits a week from now and negotiators are some $1.5 trillion apart, with severe differences in both size and scope

Republicans have tried to keep the negotiating focus strictly on roads, bridges and broadband. But most Democrats envision a more sweeping approach, with money for paid family leave, housing and addressing climate change. Neither party has made headway in addressing those fundamental differences.

Privately, members of both parties acknowledge that the most likely outcome is that Democrats will end up passing Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure proposal along party lines, using the so-called reconciliation process. But after the Democrats used a similar approach on a coronavirus aid bill in March, some senators like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) balked at leaving behind Republicans for a second time.

The GOP sees physical infrastructure as their top priority, but Democrats want to wrap in what they call “human infrastructure” as well as other priorities like electric vehicles.

Republicans have also dismissed Biden’s hopes at using tax increases on corporations to pay for his plan. They’ve instead proposed alternative pay-fors, including user fees and unspent coronavirus relief money, which Democrats have called inadequate.