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!

President Biden meets with Senate Republicans in February. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Some Senate Republicans might agree to add to the national debt to pay for a scaled-back infrastructure plan, senators and aides told Axios — one more grasp at a deal with President Biden before Democrats pack up and go it alone.

Why it matters: Skipping over the thorny question of how to offset up to $1 trillion in new projects could actually be politically and philosophically easier for GOP lawmakers than agreeing on tax increases.

What they're saying: Deficit spending "could be part of the discussion," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told Axios. "It would be for what we would consider to be the hard infrastructure: the roads, bridges, the ports...is it something that is on the table? I think that's probably accurate to say."

  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said, "My strong preference would be for it to be paid for. But you know, if they have another proposal, I won't dismiss it out of hand."

Driving the news: The White House has indicated that Biden will make a decision by Memorial Day on whether to continue negotiating with Republicans or jump to the partisan track and try and pass a package with only Democratic votes.

The big picture: There are two Senate efforts to reach common ground with Biden on a bipartisan infrastructure package, which could climb as high as $1 trillion but well short of the $2.3 trillion he initially proposed for both hard and "human" infrastructure.

  • The first, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), is mostly focused on the size and scope of a potential package. Her group has exchanged offers and counteroffers with the White House on what qualifies as infrastructure.
  • On Tuesday, a second bipartisan group led by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) emerged to say they're focusing on paying for any compromise.
  • "The real question is how will it be paid for because the Republicans have ruled out an amendment to the 2017 tax bill," said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine). "And they've ruled out filling the tax gap by making high-income people pay their pay their taxes."

The other side: Some Democrats are reluctant to open the door to deficit spending on a bipartisan bill, convinced that corporations and wealthy Americans need to pay higher taxes. They assume Republicans who sign on would demand to shrink the overall price tag and allow corporations to keep their tax rate at 21%.

  • "We will ultimately have the tool of budget reconciliation in front of us," said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) "We don't have to do deficit spending."

Between the lines: While some Republicans, like Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are open to finding additional revenue from unpaid taxes, most are skeptical that the Internal Revenue Service can raise $700 billion as Biden claims.

  • Republicans also insist there are billions of unspent funds from the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. And they're focused on additional user fees through indexing the gas tax to inflation and levying a fee on miles traveled for electric vehicles.
  • But both those options are non-starters for the White House and Senate Democrats. "I've zoomed with a lot of Republican county commissioners and not a single one said 'we don't need the money,'" said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)

Be smart: Republican willingness to use deficit financing for infrastructure will be tested on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which could cost $200 billion, including $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

  • "If you want to see who the fiscal conservatives are now, see what they do on the Endless Frontier Act," said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), using the original name for that legislation. "There's no question that we've got some Republicans that don't mind deficit spending."

Go deeper

Updated Jul 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group reaches agreement on $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

After weeks of long nights and endless Zoom calls, a bipartisan group of senators finally reached a deal on "the major issues" in their $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure package, GOP senators involved in the talks announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It could be days before the group finishes writing the bill, but the Senate can begin debating the legislation in earnest now that they have resolved the outstanding issues. The bill needs 60 votes to advance in the Senate.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Dems' tricky climate infrastructure message

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

We now know more about the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure plan — and Democrats' tactical approach to the advancing package that has a suite of climate-related provisions.

Catch up fast: The Senate voted 67-32 to move the $1.2 trillion plan toward debate last night. Per a White House release it includes...

21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Infrastructure bills face House chaos

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries arrives for a House vote last month. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The infrastructure agreement cinched Wednesday by senators faces several changes in the House before it — and a companion reconciliation bill — have any chance of becoming law.

Why it matters: The myopic focus on the bipartisan group of Senate negotiators overlooks House progressives and others ready to pounce. They have the ability to quash any deal, given the narrow Democratic margins not only in the Senate but also the House.