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The infrastructure deal announced Thursday night by a group of 10 Democratic and Republican senators is likely the best bipartisan bill President Biden is going to get.

Why it matters: It has the backing of Democrats' most rebellious party members — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — as well as the support of key Republican senators. The question now is whether the group can convince progressives and the broader GOP conference to get on board, too.

Our thought bubble: It's going to be very hard to sell this package to the rest of Congress.

  • Even with five Republican senators, it's still not the group of 10 GOP members they need to garner the 60 votes required to pass major legislation.

Driving the news: The proposal from a splinter group of the so-called G20 bloc of bipartisan senators focuses on "hard" infrastructure and doesn't touch on the more ambitious parts of Biden's package — the provisions outlined in the American Families Plan.

  • It would cost $974 billion over five years, or $1.2 trillion if extrapolated over eight years. About $579 billion of the total would be new spending.
  • The biggest sticking point remains how to pay for it. As of now, the plan would cover the cost of the entire bill without raising taxes.
  • The group proposes paying for it through unspent coronavirus relief aid, public-private partnerships, indexing the gas tax to account for inflation and allowing states to borrow necessary money through a revolving loan fund.
  • Biden has expressed resistance to several of those ideas, but he's also a former senator who knows how to cut deals.

The remaining challenge:

For Republicans: It's a very open question whether the Republican senators in this group (all considered moderates) represent the rest of their conference.

  • Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) had the backing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) when trying to negotiate her own agreement with Biden.
  • McConnell has yet to say he'll support this new group's efforts. Without his blessing, most Republican senators won't go for it.

But, but, but: Agreeing to the deal would insulate Republicans from criticism they’d surely face if they just blocked such popular legislation.

  • That's also a danger for progressives who might want to vote against it because it's not big enough for them or their Democratic constituencies.

For Democrats: Biden promised progressives a big, bold, once-in-a-generation infrastructure package that would bring about transformational change not only for roads, bridges and highways but also climate change, child care and education.

  • This package doesn't do that, and the progressive wing of the party is already chafing to go the partisan route and pursue a reconciliation bill that would be far more ambitious.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee who has long been ready to stop talking to the GOP and go it alone, said a reconciliation bill would include both Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.
  • That would create a combined price tag of nearly $4 trillion — which even more moderate Democrats tell us they would have a hard time backing.

What to watch: Even if this bipartisan group of 10 succeeds in striking a deal on the traditional infrastructure portion (Biden's Jobs Plan), Democrats insist they'll try to pass the rest (the Families Plan) via reconciliation.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said this week that Democrats are working on a reconciliation bill as a backup plan in case the bipartisan negotiations fail.
  • He added that he plans to move forward with an infrastructure bill in the Senate in July, whether or not a deal between the two sides is reached.

Go deeper

Jun 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group reaches agreement on infrastructure proposal

Sens. Mark Warner, Joe Manchin, Mitt Romney, Jeanne Shaheen, Susan Collins and Kyrsten Sinema take a break from a meeting on infrastructure. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of 10 senators said Thursday they reached an agreement on an infrastructure spending framework they hope to sell to congressional leaders and the White House.

Why it matters: The announcement comes just days after negotiations officially broke down between President Biden and a group of Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

Jun 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

First look: 90 groups urge Biden to pass infrastructure through reconciliation

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), during a break in bipartisan infrastructure talks Tuesday. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some 90 advocacy groups want President Biden and Democratic leaders to abandon bipartisan infrastructure negotiations and instead use the partisan reconciliation process to enact a more progressive package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: An open letter being released by the group Wednesday morning comes immediately after Biden decided to end talks with Republican senators, led by Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), and turn his attention toward striking a deal with a separate, bipartisan group.

Jun 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Republican senators claim “tentative” bipartisan infrastructure deal

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) talks about a potential infrastructure deal on Thursday. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Republican senators emerged from a series of closed-door, bipartisan talks Thursday boasting of reaching a "tentative" deal on infrastructure, yet their Democratic counterparts wouldn't go that far.

Why it matters: Members of the s0-called G20 group of 20 senators appear to be the last, best hope for a bipartisan agreement, but the split in where the talks stand highlights the ongoing gulf between the parties on roads, bridges and more.