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Senate infrastructure negotiators set to meet with Biden with 'framework' in place

Bipartisan group "wouldn’t be going to the White House if we didn’t think we had something,” Sen. Mark Warner says, though no details have been revealed.

The bipartisan group of Senators negotiating an infrastructure package will head to the White House to meet with President Joe Biden on Thursday.

The lawmakers appeared optimistic after closed-door meetings with White House officials Wednesday.

“We’ve agreed to a framework on the entire package,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “Republicans and Democrats have come together along with the White House, and we’ve agreed on a framework and we’re going to be heading to the White House tomorrow.”

This appears to put lawmakers on a firmer path to deliver on one of Biden's top legislative priorities after weeks of impasse over the details of the massive package. However, lawmakers signaled that no final deal is certain, particularly because of the bill's proposed $1.2 trillion price tag.

Biden's American Jobs Plan would be funded by higher taxes on corporations. Republicans, however, want a smaller cost and have opposed raising corporate taxes.

“I think we have a good, balanced group of [funding sources], and that was important to both sides. I will say, in good faith, we tried to get there. We didn’t agree on everything, but we were able to get there,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is leading the GOP negotiators.

“We’ve had a framework as you know for the last couple of weeks, and we have 21 of us agreeing to that. Now we’re going to fan out and talk to" colleagues, he said.

Yet, neither side has laid out any specifics of the agreed-upon framework. White House officials also met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Wednesday. Schumer noted that Democrats are still considering two tracks to passing an infrastructure bill — crafting a budget measure focused on economic legislation that can evade the filibuster and working with Republicans on a bipartisan deal.

“It was a very good meeting, we got into quite a bit of detail, we're all on the same page. Both tracks — the bipartisan track, and the budget reconciliation track — are proceeding in pace, and we hope to have voted on both of them in the Senate and House in July,” Schumer said.

Both tracks could take weeks to complete. However, both the Senate and House will be out for the Fourth of July recess and back for only a short time in July before an extended August recess.

“One can't be done without the other, all of us agreed to that,” Schumer told reporters but did not say whether all Senate Democrats are on board for both tracks.

Schumer said both Democratic leaders “support the concepts that we have heard about” but said they did get into quite a bit of detail.

Lawmakers said the framework appears to be solid.

“I would call this a much sturdier framework,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said. “We wouldn’t be going to the White House if we didn’t think we had something.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, acknowledged that briefing Biden and leadership on both sides is “the last big step."

She added, “It’s really important that before we go home, we get the details ironed out. But considering where we started and where we are, both sides negotiated in good faith and this is important.”