Manchin, Romney among lawmakers working up bipartisan infrastructure backup

Democrats, Republicans split on infrastructure deal endangering Biden plan

Nicole Malliotakis R-New York., joins ‘The Evening Edit’ to discuss Democrats’ mixed messaging 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working on a backup infrastructure bill in the event that ongoing discussions between the Biden administration and Republicans fail.

The group includes Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a Democrat whose support is critical for President Biden to get a bill passed in Senate, which is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

Senate sources confirmed to FOX Business on Tuesday that Senators Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Manchin are among a group of Republicans and Democrats seeking to identify areas of bipartisan support to string together in a separate piece of legislation.

"Well, we've got a group of basically four Republicans, four Democrats. We put together a list of the projects that we support," Romney told Fox News "And we pretty much kind of meeting of the mind on that, and we've also listed our pay-fors," referring to measures taken to offset the cost of the proposals.

The effort is characterized as both bipartisan and bicameral, and the lawmakers involved are working with the co-chairs of the House Problem Solvers Caucus.

Negotiations are back-and-forth over an infrastructure plan, which – in theory – is believed to have support from lawmakers across both sides of the aisle. However, major differences have emerged over spending.

WHITE HOUSE REDUCES INFRASTRUCTURE PROPOSAL TO $1.7T, DOWN FROM $2.25T

Biden initially proposed a more than $2.2 trillion plan – which was met by a counteroffer from Republicans carrying a price tag of less than $600 billion.

On Friday, the White House trimmed its offer down to $1.7 trillion – which the GOP characterized as "well above the range of what can pass with bipartisan support." Republicans also noted on Friday that there were "vast differences" between what they and what the White House defined as infrastructure. 

There are also disagreements over how much should be spent and how it should be paid for.

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Senate Republicans are expected to counteroffer with a $1 trillion proposal later this week, FOX Business learned on Tuesday. One of the six senators involved in the ongoing negotiations noted that this figure is close to what Biden said he would accept.

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If bipartisan negotiations don’t work out, Democrats would potentially be able to pass the measure via the fast-track process known as budget reconciliation. However, they would need the support of all Democrats in the chamber, including centrists like Manchin, who appears to be pushing for a bipartisan deal.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he plans to take action in the chamber on Biden’s spending plan including the infrastructure revamp in July.

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