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Biden says he’s concerned about bipartisan infrastructure plan

(Reuters) US President Joe Biden had separate talks Monday with two key Democratic senators on a bipartite infrastructure plan and told them he was encouraged by the proposal but I still had questions about how to pay the bill, said the White House.

A bipartite infrastructure plan costing just over $ 1 trillion, only about a quarter of what Biden initially proposed has gained support from the U.S. Senate, but disputes continue over how it should be funded.

Biden met with senators separately Joe manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and “told them he was encouraged by what had formed but still had questions about the policy as well as how to fund the bipartisan group’s proposal,” the White House said.

Biden also told senators he was “focused on discussions on the Senate budget resolution,” he said, an apparent reference to Democratic preparations to pass parts of his broader infrastructure plans opposed by Republicans using a procedure called reconciliation which only requires a simple majority.

There are 50 Republicans, 48 ​​Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats in the 100-seat Senate and Vice President Kamala Harris has the deciding vote for the Democrats.

Manchin and Sinema were evasive when asked if they support a reconciliation bill.

Among other measures, members of the bipartisan group discussed index the gasoline tax to inflation to help foot the bill, a provision that Biden has always rejected.

“We still have some sticking points, especially in the way we pay for this,” Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told CNN Monday.

Twenty-one of 100 U.S. Senators – including 11 Republicans, nine Democrats and one Independent who caucus with Democrats – are working on the framework for rebuild roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure sources say it would cost $ 1.2 trillion over eight years.

One of the 21 Senators, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, told Fox News on Sunday that if Biden wanted a $ 1 trillion infrastructure deal, “He’s here for the taking. You just need to get involved and lead.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Biden said on Monday that Biden is expected to speak to lawmakers as early as Monday, but added that there were not many weeks left for negotiations before Democrats decided to move forward on a party line vote.

Biden, seeking to fueling economic growth after the pandemic, had initially proposed approximately $ 4 trillion will be spent on a wider range of infrastructure which included the fight against climate change and take care of children and the elderly.

The White House has reduced the offer to about $ 1.7 trillion in talks with senators in an attempt to gain Republican support in the heavily divided US Senate.

Psaki said on Monday that the White House had not abandoned its plan for additional spending on items such as free preschool and paid family leave. She said the White House had never seen the infrastructure negotiations as “a step. There is a reconciliation process underway, which addresses and includes a number of the president’s priorities.”



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