Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Republicans are looking to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, seen Monday, for their infrastructure cue. Photo: Tom Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are all over the map about how their party should proceed on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal.

What we're hearing: GOP strategists tell Axios they've struggled over not only whether they support the current Senate negotiations but how to message off the broader infrastructure debate.

There are competing dynamics at play, they say, making it difficult:

  • The conservative movement has existential worries about the increase in spending, particularly as vaccines fuel a better economy and inflationary fears grip consumers — and send the stock market diving, as happened Monday.
  • They're wary of going on the record supporting a package that includes such a steep price tag, particularly after Congress already passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus package this year.
  • They're also terrified of being held responsible for killing a bipartisan deal for something everyone loves: roads, bridges and photogenic local pork.
  • All this comes as they try to message against "reconciliation" and "inflation" — two terms not well understood by everyday Americans — and search for ways to simplify their attacks.

The latest: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) formally set up a Wednesday vote on a motion to advance the bipartisan proposal.

  • This was expected — but came as multiple Republican senators, including those involved in negotiations, threatened to vote against advancing the deal if the bill remained unwritten.
  • Schumer then announced that if the bipartisan group does not finalize text of the agreement in time for Thursday's session, he will offer an amendment "consisting only of the elements of the bill that have already been put through committee on a bipartisan process."
  • This could sway enough GOP members in favor. Schumer said the five leading Democratic negotiators — all moderates — embraced this approach.

Between the lines: Many Republican senators are waiting for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to provide needed direction.

  • McConnell has, so far, intentionally not gotten involved. The fact that the bipartisan bill is not even written, and will then take several days to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office, buys him more time.
  • Sources familiar with his strategy tell Axios he doesn’t want to kill the bill, because there are Republican members who really want it to pass, and because he thinks it has some appealing provisions.
  • Yet he also has the midterms on his mind. Not only would passing the bill give Schumer and President Biden a huge Democratic victory but it also could prove a hard sell back in conservative territory.

Influential outside groups also are split over the package:

  • Members within the conservative movement are urging Republican lawmakers not to support a package relying too heavily on new spending.
  • "Democrats are playing an expensive shell game to try and lure Republicans into reckless spending," Alfredo Ortiz, CEO of the Job Creators Network, told Axios in a statement.
  • On the other hand, J.P. Morgan and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are urging Republicans to publicly get behind the bipartisan deal.
  • They're concerned the GOP's opposition — or, at a minimum, its silence — will ultimately result in a more progressive, Democrat-only package with bigger tax increases.
  • "If this bipartisan infrastructure deal somehow gets blown up from the right, then it affirms everything that those who want to use reconciliation to pass tax increases, and those who want to get rid of the filibuster, are arguing to moderate Democrats is true," Neil Bradley, the Chamber's chief policy officer, told Axios.

Go deeper

Jul 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Portman hits Schumer for infrastructure deadline

Sen. Rob Portman. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday for setting an "arbitrary deadline" to move forward with a bipartisan infrastructure proposal.

Why it matters: Portman is a key Republican negotiator, yet Senate leadership aides tell Axios that Schumer won't back away from beginning procedural steps to move the bill — still unwritten — forward this week.

Jul 18, 2021 - Health

GOP joins Dems in taking on Big Pharma

Sen. Bill Cassidy appears today on "Fox News Sunday." Via @atrupar/Twitter

Senators working to keep the bipartisan infrastructure deal alive are zeroing in on Medicare prescription drug rebate formulas to offset up to $60 billion of the $1.2 trillion package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Targeting those funds puts the bipartisan infrastructure plan in competition with the $3.5 trillion, Democrat-only plan proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.). It also assumes new money from altering complicated prescription drug formulas.

House builds infrastructure alliances

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Members of the House are forming alliances and gearing for battle while waiting for the Senate to work out final details of an infrastructure deal.

Why it matters: The lower chamber has been on the sidelines during its two-week recess, yet representatives have been watching senators carefully in anticipation of their own debate on the measures that will be shipped their way.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!