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    $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Pours Money Into Long-Delayed Needs

    The sprawling, 2,702-page bill includes historic investments in traditional projects as well as broadband expansion and funds for some climate projects.WASHINGTON — Amtrak would see its biggest infusion of money since its inception a half-century ago. Climate resilience programs would receive their largest burst of government spending ever. The nation’s power grid would be upgraded to the tune of $73 billion.The sprawling, $1 trillion bill that the Senate took up on Monday — a 2,702-page bipartisan deal that is the product of months of negotiating and years of pent-up ambitions to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — would amount to the most substantial government expenditure on the aging public works system since 2009.It is also stuffed with pet projects and priorities that touch on nearly every facet of American life, including the most obscure, like a provision to allow blood transport vehicles to use highway car pool lanes to bypass traffic when fresh vials are on board and another to fully fund a federal grant program to promote “pollinator-friendly practices” near roads and highways. (Price tag for the latter: $2 million per year.)The measure represents a crucial piece of President Biden’s economic agenda, and the agreement that gave rise to it was a major breakthrough in his quest for a bipartisan compromise. But it was also notable for the concessions Mr. Biden was forced to make to strike the deal, including less funding for clean energy projects, lead pipe replacement, transit and measures targeted to historically underserved communities.Some of those provisions could be included in Democrats’ budget blueprint, expected to amount to $3.5 trillion, which they plan to take up after completing the infrastructure bill and push through unilaterally over Republican objections.The infrastructure legislation, written by a group of 10 Republicans and Democrats, could still change in the coming days, as other senators eager to leave their imprint have a chance to offer proposals for changes. The Senate began considering amendments on Monday, with more possible in the coming days.But the legislation marks a significant bipartisan compromise, including $550 billion in new funds and the renewal of an array of existing transportation and infrastructure programs otherwise slated to expire at the end of September.For climate, a substantial investment that falls short of the administration’s goals.As states confront yet another consecutive year of worsening natural disasters, ranging from ice storms to wildfires, the measure includes billions of dollars to better prepare the country for the effects of global warming and the single largest federal investment in power transmission in history.Much of the money intended to bolster the country’s ability to withstand extreme weather would go toward activities that are already underway, but which experts say the government needs to do more of as the threats from climate change increase. It also would support new approaches, including money for “next-generation water modeling activities” and flood mapping at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which would also receive funds to predict wildfires.The legislation also includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid, which energy analysts said would lay the groundwork for pivoting the nation off fossil fuels. But it contains only a fraction of the money Mr. Biden requested for major environmental initiatives and extends a lifeline to natural gas and nuclear energy, provisions that have angered House progressives.There is also $7.5 billion for clean buses and ferries, but that is not nearly enough to electrify about 50,000 transit buses within five years, as Mr. Biden has vowed to do. The bill includes $7.5 billion to develop electric vehicle charging stations across the country, only half of the $15 billion Mr. Biden requested to deliver on his campaign pledge of building 500,000 of them.The bill would provide $15 billion for removing lead service lines across the nation, compared with the $45 billion Mr. Biden had called for and the $60 billion water sector leaders say is needed to get the job done.The legislation also includes more than $300 million to develop technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and $6 billion to support struggling nuclear reactors. It directs the secretary of energy to conduct a study on job losses associated with Mr. Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.The legislation includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid.Jim Wilson/The New York TimesSenators won pet projects and crucial funding for their favored priorities.As one of the few major bills likely to be enacted during this Congress, the infrastructure measure has become a magnet for lobbying by industries across the country — and by the lawmakers whose votes will be needed to push it through, many of whom spent Monday highlighting funds for their top priorities.For the quartet of senators who represent the legions of federal workers who use the Washington Metro — Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia, and Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, all Democrats — there was a critical annual reauthorization of $150 million for the transit system over a decade.The legislation would authorize funding to reconstruct a highway in Alaska, the home state of Senator Lisa Murkowski, a key Republican negotiator. Special funds are set aside for the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal economic development body whose co-chairwoman is Gayle Manchin, the wife of Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, one of the bill’s principal authors and a key Democratic swing vote. Mr. Manchin also helped secure funds to clean up abandoned mine lands in states like his.The legislation would set aside funds for individual projects across the country, including $1 billion for the restoration of the Great Lakes, $24 million for the San Francisco Bay, $106 million for the Long Island Sound and $238 million for the Chesapeake Bay.It also includes $66 billion in new funding for rail to address Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, along with upgrading the high-traffic Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. For Mr. Biden, an Amtrak devotee who took an estimated 8,000 round trips on the line, it is a step toward fulfilling his promise to inject billions into rail.Unspent pandemic funds and tougher scrutiny of cryptocurrency help pay for the plan.With Republicans and some moderate Democrats opposed to adding to the nation’s ballooning debt, the legislation includes a patchwork of financing mechanisms, though some fiscal hawks have called many of them insufficient.To pay for the legislation, lawmakers have turned partly to $200 billion in unused money from previous pandemic relief programs enacted in 2020.That includes $53 billion in expanded jobless benefit money that can be repurposed since the economy recovered more quickly than projections assumed, and because many states discontinued their pandemic unemployment insurance payments out of concern that the subsidies were dissuading people from rejoining the work force.The bill claws back more than $30 billion that was allocated — but had not been spent — for a Small Business Administration disaster loan program, which offers qualified businesses low-interest loans and small grants. That program has been stymied by shifting rules and red tape, and has disbursed cash far more slowly than Congress (and many applicants) expected.Leftover funds from other defunct programs would also be reprogrammed. That includes $3 billion never deployed in relief funds for airline workers.Marc Goldwein of the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget said that only about $50 billion of the estimated $200 billion represented real cost savings. The rest, he said, amounted to “cherry picking” numbers and claiming savings from projected costs that did not transpire.An analysis of the legislation by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the legislation could raise $51 billion in revenue over a decade, while the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release projections on its overall cost as early as this week.The legislation also includes tougher scrutiny by the I.R.S. on cryptocurrency. But a last-minute lobbying push by the industry to water down the language succeeded, resulting in a scaling back of the new requirements.Still, the provision is projected to raise $28 billion over a decade.New resources for underserved communities — but far fewer than the president wanted.As the United States remains battered by both the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and an onslaught of wildfires, droughts, floods and other weather calamities, the legislation seeks to target its support toward underserved communities historically in need of additional federal support.But while Mr. Biden had called for $20 billion for projects designed to help reconnect Black neighborhoods and communities of color splintered or disadvantaged by past construction, the legislation includes just $1 billion, half of which is new federal funding, over five years for the program. The legislation also creates a new $2 billion grant program to expand roads, bridges and other surface transportation projects in rural areas.The bill would increase support for tribal governments and Native American communities, creating an office within the Department of Transportation intended to respond to their needs. It would provide $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for climate resilience and adaptation for tribal nations, which have been disproportionately hurt by climate change. More than half of that money, $130 million, would go toward “community relocation” — helping some Native communities move away from vulnerable areas.It would also help improve access to running water and other sanitation needs in tribal communities and Alaska Native villages, with lawmakers determined to take care of all existing project needs.“We are still in an extreme deficit when it comes to our tribal communities,” Ms. Murkowski said in a speech on the Senate floor, adding that the funding level was “unprecedented.” “We’ve got to do right by our Native people.”A major investment in closing the digital divide.Alongside old-fashioned public works projects like roads, bridges and highways, senators have included $65 billion meant to connect hard-to-reach rural communities to high-speed internet and help sign up low-income city dwellers who cannot afford it. Other legal changes seek to stoke competition and transparency among service providers that could help drive down prices.Official estimates vary, but most suggest that tens of millions of Americans lack reliable access to high-speed internet, many of them people of color, members of rural communities or other low-income groups. That need, lawmakers said, was exacerbated by lockdowns during the pandemic that required work and schooling from home.Mr. Biden had initially proposed $100 billion to try to bring that number to zero, but he agreed to lower the price to strike a compromise with Republicans. Democrats also fought to secure the inclusion of legislation to encourage states to develop comprehensive plans to ensure that access to high-speed internet is distributed equitably among traditionally underserved groups and educate them about access to digital resources.Nicholas Fandos More

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    As Infrastructure Bill Inches Forth, a Rocky, Slow Path Awaits in the House

    Progressives have not ruled out reopening the deal that senators are painstakingly putting together, and they do not intend to take it up for months, until after their other priorities are addressed.WASHINGTON — As senators grind through votes this week on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, discontent about the legislation is building among progressive Democrats, signaling a potentially bitter and prolonged intraparty fight to come over the package in the House.Liberals who have bristled at seeing their top priorities jettisoned from the infrastructure talks as President Biden and Democrats sought an elusive deal with Republicans have warned that they may seek to change the bill substantially when they have the chance. At minimum, House Democrats have made clear that they do not intend to take up the bill until a second, far more expansive package to provide trillions more in spending on health care, education, child care and climate change programs is approved, something not expected until the fall.The result is that, even as senators carefully navigate their sprawling infrastructure compromise toward final passage that could come within days — pausing every few hours to congratulate themselves for finding bipartisan consensus in a time of deep division — the legislation still faces a rocky and potentially slow path beyond the Senate.Democrats hold a slim enough majority in the House that even a few defections could sink legislation, and progressives have been open in recent days about their reluctance to support the infrastructure legislation without an ironclad guarantee that the budget package, expected to cost about $3.5 trillion, will become law.“The Progressive Caucus has had moral clarity, and a clarion call for three months, that we need to deliver the entirety of these two packages together, so that’s going to continue to be our approach,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the group. “While there may be a couple of senators that are saying that they’re going to vote ‘no’ if certain things don’t happen, that is also true of any number of members in the House.”In order to deliver on Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda, Democratic leaders have remained adamant that they will approve two expansive bills this year, beginning with Senate passage of the $1 trillion bipartisan compromise, which would pour $550 billion in new federal funds into the nation’s aging roads, bridges and highways, and into climate resiliency and broadband expansion programs.The remainder of Mr. Biden’s plans to address climate change, expand health care and provide free education will be stuffed into a budget package that Democrats plan to pass using a maneuver known as reconciliation. That process allows them to bypass a filibuster, meaning that if all 50 of their senators supported the bill, it could be approved over unified Republican opposition.Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, has said he plans to bring up a budget blueprint that would pave the way for that bill as soon as the infrastructure bill passes — and will not allow senators to leave Washington for their summer break, scheduled to begin on Friday, until both are done.Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has repeatedly said that the House will not take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation package, which will take weeks to hammer out in order to clear an evenly divided Senate. But some moderate Democrats want to vote on it immediately, sending it quickly to Mr. Biden for his signature.“We should bring this once-in-a-century bipartisan legislation to the floor for a stand-alone vote as quickly as possible,” said Representative Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey and a leader of the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus.Republicans have moved quickly to try to exploit the divisions among Democrats. While more than a dozen Republicans are expected to support the final bipartisan infrastructure bill, they have branded the budget package as a “reckless tax-and-spending spree” that will drive up inflation. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, led a half-dozen Republicans on Wednesday in a barrage of criticism for what he described as “the absolute worst possible thing we could be doing to our country.”Some centrist Democrats, too, have expressed concern about the size of the $3.5 trillion plan being championed by progressives. Most notably, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has said she will not support a reconciliation bill of that size, which would doom the measure in the Senate, where Democrats need every member aligned with them to vote yes. (She has agreed to advance a budget blueprint, a crucial step for the process.)That infuriated liberal Democrats who are primed to wield their influence on the pair of economic bills. They have been emboldened in recent days by a successful campaign led by one of their own, Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, to pressure Mr. Biden into extending an eviction moratorium for renters affected by the pandemic.“Today is important because it marks, I hope, a turning point in the way that this White House views progressives,” Representative Mondaire Jones, Democrat of New York, said at a news conference after the moratorium extension was announced. “We are prepared to leverage our energy and our activism in close coordination with grass-roots activists and people all across this country.”Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, right, led a successful campaign to pressure President Biden into extending an eviction moratorium for renters affected by the pandemic.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesThe House set its own marker for infrastructure legislation in early July with the nearly party-line passage of a five-year, $715 billion transportation and drinking water bill. But the White House instead focused on talks with a bipartisan group of senators aimed at finding a compromise that could win enough Republican support to draw 60 votes in the Senate and overcome a filibuster. As part of the resulting deal, Mr. Biden made a number of concessions, accepting less funding for clean energy projects, lead pipe replacement and transit, among other areas.The situation has rankled Representative Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mr. DeFazio spent months shepherding the House infrastructure bill, which includes more substantial climate policy and more than 1,400 home-district projects, known as earmarks, from lawmakers in both parties.“The bill in the Senate was written behind closed doors, and you know, that’s probably not going to be the best product,” Mr. DeFazio said on CNN on Monday. “Most of the people who wrote the bill are not senior people on the committees of jurisdiction who know a lot about transportation, or perhaps a number of them are resistant to the idea that we should deal with climate change.”Pressed on whether he would ultimately block passage of the final product, Mr. DeFazio conceded that the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package “could fix a lot of the problems in this bill.”“I’ve had that conversation with the White House — that’s possible,” he said. “So if we see major changes and things that are mitigated by the reconciliation bill, OK, then maybe we could move this.”White House officials said they have remained in touch with House Democrats’ tensions. Mr. Biden has dispatched cabinet officials to meet with several of them, including Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, who traveled to Oregon to laud Mr. DeFazio’s work on infrastructure.“We’re in close touch with the president’s colleagues in the House, who he deeply respects and values as core partners in delivering on generational infrastructure progress,” said Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman. In recent days, the White House has pointedly shared polls and articles that show widespread support for the bipartisan plan and highlight substantial funding for climate resilience.Senate Democrats, for their part, have vowed to remain united as they trudge through a marathon of votes to finish both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget blueprint before leaving Washington for their August recess.“We’re moving together as Democrats,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told reporters this week. “No one’s going to get everything they want. But no one’s going to get shut out, either.”Lisa Friedman More

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    $1 Trillion Infrastructure Deal Scales Senate Hurdle With Bipartisan Vote

    The vote was a breakthrough after weeks of wrangling among White House officials and senators in both parties, clearing the way for action on a top priority for President Biden.WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Wednesday to take up a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that would make far-reaching investments in the nation’s public works system, as Republicans joined Democrats in clearing the way for action on a crucial piece of President Biden’s agenda.The 67-to-32 vote, which included 17 Republicans in favor, came just hours after centrist senators in both parties and the White House reached a long-sought compromise on the bill, which would provide about $550 billion in new federal money for roads, bridges, rail, transit, water and other physical infrastructure programs.Among those in support of moving forward was Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a longtime foil of major legislation pushed by Democratic presidents. Mr. McConnell’s backing signaled that his party was — at least for now — open to teaming with Democrats to enact the plan.The deal still faces several obstacles to becoming law, including being turned into formal legislative text and clearing final votes in the closely divided Senate and House. But the vote was a victory for a president who has long promised to break through the partisan gridlock gripping Congress and accomplish big things supported by members of both political parties.If enacted, the measure would be the largest infusion of federal money into the public works system in more than a decade.The compromise, which was still being written on Wednesday, includes $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail; $39 billion for public transit; $65 billion for broadband; $17 billion for ports and waterways; and $46 billion to help states and cities prepare for droughts, wildfires, flooding and other consequences of climate change, according to a White House official who detailed it on the condition of anonymity.In a lengthy statement, Mr. Biden hailed the deal as “the most significant long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century.”He also framed it as vindication of his belief in bipartisanship.“Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal,” Mr. Biden said. “But that’s what it means to compromise and forge consensus — the heart of democracy. As the deal goes to the entire Senate, there is still plenty of work ahead to bring this home. There will be disagreements to resolve and more compromise to forge along the way.”That was evident on Wednesday even as the president and senators in both parties cheered their agreement. In negotiating it, Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders were forced to agree to concessions, accepting less new federal money for public transit and clean energy projects than they had wanted, including for some electric vehicle charging stations, and abandoning their push for additional funding for tax enforcement at the I.R.S. (A senior Democratic aide noted that Democrats secured an expansion of existing transit and highway programs compared with 2015, the last time such legislation was passed.)The changes — and the omission of some of their highest priorities — rankled progressives in both chambers, with some threatening to oppose the bill unless it was modified.“From what we have heard, having seen no text, this bill is going to be status quo, 1950s policy with a little tiny add-on,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, a Democrat and the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.“If it’s what I think it is,” he added, “I will be opposed.”Still, the bipartisan compromise was a crucial component of Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda, which Democrats plan to pair with a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that would provide additional spending for climate, health care and education, to be muscled through Congress over Republican objections.The Infrastructure Plan: What’s In and What’s OutComparing the infrastructure plan President Biden proposed in March with the one the Senate may take up soon.The vote to move forward with the infrastructure bill came after weeks of haggling by a bipartisan group of senators and White House officials to translate an outline they agreed on late last month into legislation. Just last week, Senate Republicans had unanimously blocked consideration of the plan, saying there were too many unresolved disputes. But by Wednesday, after several days of frenzied talks and late-night phone calls and texts among senators and White House officials, the negotiators announced they were ready to proceed.“We look forward to moving ahead, and having the opportunity to have a healthy debate here in the chamber regarding an incredibly important project for the American people,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and a lead negotiator.Many of the bill’s spending provisions remain unchanged from the original agreement. But it appeared that it pared spending in a few areas, including reducing money for public transit to $39 billion from $49 billion, and eliminating a $20 billion “infrastructure bank” that was meant to catalyze private investment in large projects. Negotiators were unable to agree on the structure of the bank and terms of its financing authority, so they removed it altogether.The loss of the infrastructure bank appeared to cut in half the funding for electric vehicle charging stations that administration officials had said was included in the original agreement, jeopardizing Mr. Biden’s promise to create a network of 500,000 charging stations nationwide.The new agreement appears to cut funding in half for the Biden administration’s proposal on electric vehicle charging stations.Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThe new agreement also included significant changes to how the infrastructure spending will be paid for, after Republicans resisted supporting a pillar of the original framework: increased revenues from an I.R.S. crackdown on tax cheats, which was to have supplied nearly one-fifth of the funding for the plan.In place of those lost revenues, negotiators agreed to repurpose more than $250 billion from previous pandemic aid legislation, including $50 billion from expanded unemployment benefits that have been canceled prematurely this summer by two dozen Republican governors, according to a fact sheet reviewed by The New York Times. That is more than double the repurposed money in the original deal.The new agreement would save $50 billion by delaying a Medicare rebate rule passed under President Donald J. Trump and raise nearly $30 billion by applying tax information reporting requirements to cryptocurrency. It also proposes to recoup $50 billion in fraudulently paid unemployment benefits during the pandemic.Fiscal hawks were quick to dismiss some of those financing mechanisms as overly optimistic or accounting gimmicks, and warned that the agreement would add to the federal budget deficit over time. But business groups and some moderates in Washington quickly praised the deal.Jack Howard, the senior vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has worked for months to broker a bipartisan deal that does not include a corporate tax increase, said the spending in the agreement “will provide enormous benefits for the American people and the economy.”“Our nation has been waiting for infrastructure modernization for over a decade,” he said, “and this is a critical step in the process.”During a lunch on Wednesday, the Republicans who spearheaded the deal passed out binders containing a summary of what could be a 1,000-page bill. The group of 10 core negotiators ultimately held a celebratory news conference where they thanked their colleagues in both parties for their support.“It’s not perfect but it’s, I think, in a good place,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, who voted in favor of taking up the bill.Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, expressed optimism about the new agreement.T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York TimesAfter the vote Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, expressed optimism that the Senate would be able to pass not just the bipartisan infrastructure package, but the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint needed to unlock the far more expansive reconciliation package to carry the remainder of Mr. Biden’s agenda.“My goal remains to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period — both,” Mr. Schumer said, warning of “long nights” and weekend sessions. “We are going to get the job done, and we are on track.”Democrats still must maneuver the bill through the evenly divided Senate, maintaining the support of all 50 Democrats and independents and at least 10 Republicans. That could take at least a week, particularly if Republicans opposed to it opt to slow the process. Should the measure clear the Senate, it would also have to pass the House, where some liberal Democrats have balked at the emerging details.But Republicans who negotiated the deal urged their colleagues to support a measure they said would provide badly needed funding for infrastructure projects across the country.“I am amazed that there are some who oppose this, just because they think that if you ever get anything done somehow it’s a sign of weakness,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana.Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has repeatedly said she will not take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House until the far more ambitious $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill passes the Senate.Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the lead Democratic negotiator of the infrastructure deal and a key moderate vote, issued a statement on Wednesday saying that she did not support a plan that costly, though she would not seek to block it. Those comments prompted multiple liberals in the House to threaten to reject the bipartisan agreement she helped negotiate, underscoring the fragility of the compromise.“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, wrote in a tweet. “Especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.’”Reporting was contributed by More

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    Senators and Biden Aides Struggle to Save Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

    A looming deadline and a last-minute need for a new revenue source are complicating a deal that was announced nearly a month ago.WASHINGTON — Congressional negotiators and the Biden administration tried on Monday to salvage a nearly $600 billion bipartisan agreement to invest in roads, water pipes and other physical infrastructure, after Republicans rejected a key component to pay for the plan and resisted Democratic plans for an initial procedural vote on Wednesday.Senators and administration officials are still working to hammer out the details of the deal, including how to ensure that a plan to finance it will secure 60 votes for Senate passage. White House officials expressed confidence on Monday that the agreement could be finalized. But its fate was uncertain.Mr. Biden is pushing his economic agenda in parts. The bipartisan agreement is meant to be Step 1 — with a much larger, Democratic bill to follow. But weeks after their announcement of a deal, the bipartisan group has not released legislative text or received external confirmation that it is fully financed. A top negotiator said over the weekend that the group jettisoned a key plan included in the deal that would have raised revenue by giving the I.R.S. more power to catch tax cheats.Republicans have come under pressure to oppose that funding method from conservative anti-tax groups, who say it would empower auditors to harass business owners and political targets. Democrats say the increased enforcement would target large corporations and people who earn more than $400,000 — and note that improved tax enforcement has been a bipartisan goal of administrations dating back decades.Still, on Monday evening Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, set up a procedural vote to begin moving toward debate on the bipartisan deal, even without the text of the plan, on Wednesday. Mr. Schumer said that if senators agreed to consider infrastructure legislation, he would move to bring up either the bipartisan deal, should one materialize this week, or a series of individual infrastructure bills that have been approved on a bipartisan basis by Senate committees.The plan was an effort to force negotiators to move toward finalizing details and a critical mass of Republicans to commit to advancing the deal, with Democrats eager to advance the legislation before the Senate leaves for its August recess. Mr. Schumer said he had support from the five main Democratic negotiators involved in talks.“It is not a deadline to determine every final detail of the bill,” he said. A vote of support on Wednesday, he added, would signal that “the Senate is ready to begin debating and amending a bipartisan infrastructure bill.”On Monday, Mr. Biden pushed for passage of the agreement during remarks at the White House, where he promoted his administration’s economic progress. But administration officials made clear later in the day that their patience for the finalization of the bipartisan agreement was running thin.“We believe it’s time to move forward with this vote — with congressional action,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said at a news briefing. Asked what the administration’s backup plan was if the plan failed to clear the test vote, Ms. Psaki demurred.“We’re not quite there yet,” she said. “There is a lot of good work that’s happened. Two days is a lifetime in Washington, so I don’t think we’re going to make predictions of the death of the infrastructure package.”Republican leaders said they wanted to see legislative text before voting on a deal.“We need to see the bill before voting to go to it. I think that’s pretty easily understood,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, told reporters on Monday. “I think we need to see the bill before we decide whether or not to vote for it.”Democrats have argued that negotiators have had nearly a month to iron out the details and that the Senate has previously taken procedural votes without finalized bill text — including when Mr. McConnell led his caucus in a failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in 2017.The biggest sticking point remains how to pay for the plan. The I.R.S. plan was estimated to bring in more than $100 billion in new tax revenue over a decade.It is unclear what the group will turn to as a substitute. White House officials and the 10 core Senate negotiators — five Democrats and five Republicans — were working on Monday to find a new revenue source.Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and a key negotiator, floated the prospect on Sunday of undoing a Trump-era rule that changes the way drug companies can offer discounts to health plans for Medicare patients as an option. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2019 that it would cost $177 billion over 10 years, and the rule has not yet been implemented.Ms. Psaki told reporters that the administration is “open to alternatives, very open to alternatives from this end.”“But we’ll let those conversations happen privately and be supportive of them from our end,” she said.Senators were expected to virtually meet Monday evening as they continued to haggle over the details. The group met for more than two hours Sunday evening.“I think we need to see the bill before we decide whether or not to vote for it,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, told reporters on Monday.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesMr. Biden continued to push on Monday for legislative action, casting his economic policies, along with vaccination efforts, as a critical driver of accelerating growth. He promised that his remaining agenda items would help Americans work more and earn more money while restraining price increases, pushing back on a critique from Republicans.Administration officials and Mr. Biden say the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion plan — the larger bill that would follow the bipartisan infrastructure bill — will dampen price pressures by increasing productivity. The president said the proposals would free up Americans to work more through subsidized child care, national paid leave and other measures, as well as improve the efficiency of the economy.The spending “won’t increase inflation,” Mr. Biden said. “It will take the pressure off inflation.”He also said he had faith in the independent Federal Reserve and its chair, Jerome H. Powell, to manage the situation. The Fed is responsible for maintaining both price stability and maximum employment.“As I made clear to Chairman Powell of the Federal Reserve when we met recently, the Fed is independent. It should take whatever steps it deems necessary to support a strong, durable economic recovery,” Mr. Biden said. “But whatever different views some might have on current price increases, we should be united on one thing: passage of the bipartisan infrastructure framework, which we shook hands on — we shook hands on.”Mr. Biden used more of the speech to push for the $3.5 trillion plan, which Democrats aim to pursue without Republican support through a process known as budget reconciliation, which bypasses a Senate filibuster.In describing the varied social and environmental initiatives he hopes to include in the plan, the president repeatedly stressed the need for government action as a means to raising living standards and creating jobs.That plan contains the bulk of Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda that is not included in the bipartisan bill, like expanding educational access, building more affordable and energy-efficient housing, incentivizing low-carbon energy through tax credits and a wide range of other social programs meant to invest in workers.Republicans have also amplified concerns about inflation since Democrats pushed through a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill in March. In a letter to his conference this week, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, said that “prices on everything from gas to groceries are skyrocketing,” and he vowed that “we will continue to hold Democrats to account for their reckless handling of the economy.”Mr. Biden’s economic team has said repeatedly that inflation increases are largely a product of the pandemic and will fade in the months or years to come.Mr. Biden dismissed a question from a reporter after the speech about the potential for unchecked inflation, which he said no serious economist foresaw.Margot Sanger-Katz More

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    Democrats Roll Out $3.5 Trillion Budget to Fulfill Biden’s Broad Agenda

    “We’re going to get a lot done,” President Biden said, as Senate Democrats began drafting the details on a social and environmental bill that could yield transformative change.WASHINGTON — President Biden and congressional Democrats vowed on Wednesday to push through a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint to vastly expand social and environmental programs by extending the reach of education and health care, taxing the rich and tackling the warming of the planet.The legislation is still far from reality, but the details that top Democrats have coalesced around are far-reaching. Prekindergarten would be universal for all 3- and 4-year-olds, two years of community college would be free, utilities would be required to produce a set amount of clean energy, and prescription drug prices would be lowered. Medicare benefits would be expanded, and green cards would be extended to some undocumented immigrants.At a closed-door luncheon in the Capitol, Mr. Biden rallied Democrats and the independents aligned with them to embrace the plan, which would require every single one of their votes to move forward over united Republican opposition. But crucial moderate lawmakers had yet to say whether they would accept the proposal, with a majority of policy details left to resolve.Mr. Biden’s message to the senators on Wednesday, said Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, was “be unified, strong, big and courageous.”Senate Democratic leaders have said they aim to pass both the budget blueprint and a narrower, bipartisan infrastructure plan that is still being written before the chamber leaves for the August recess — a complex and politically tricky task in a 50-50 Senate. The narrowly divided House would also have to pass the budget blueprint before both chambers begin tackling the detailed legislation.Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who must ultimately get the package through the House, embraced the deal, telling Democrats in a letter on Wednesday, “This budget agreement is a victory for the American people, making historic, once-in-a-generation progress for families across the nation.”The outline includes large swaths of Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda. It wraps in every major category from his American Families Plan, including investments in child care, paid leave and education, and expanded tax credits that this week will begin providing a monthly check to most families with children.“I think we’re going to get a lot done,” Mr. Biden told reporters as he left his first in-person lunch with the Democratic caucus as president.Nodding to budget constraints, party leaders conceded that many of the programs included in their plan — including the tax credits — could be temporary, leaving a future Congress to decide whether to extend them further.The proposal also includes some measures that go beyond what Mr. Biden has called for, like expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits. Democratic leaders left it to the Senate Finance Committee to decide whether to include reducing the eligibility age for Medicare to 60, a priority of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the Budget Committee chairman.The resolution would also create what would effectively be a tax on imports from countries with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. That could violate Mr. Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 a year if the tax is imposed on products that typical consumers buy, such as electronics from China.Democrats on Mr. Sanders’s committee must produce a budget resolution in the coming days that includes so-called reconciliation instructions to other Senate committees, which in turn will draft legislation detailing how the $3.5 trillion would be spent — and how taxes would be raised to pay for it.That would pave the way for Democrats to produce a reconciliation bill this fall that would be shielded from a filibuster, allowing them to circumvent Republican opposition but requiring all 50 of their members — and a majority in the narrowly divided House — to pass it.“In some cases, it doesn’t provide all the funding that I would like to do right now,” Mr. Sanders said. “But given the fact that we have 50 members, and that compromises have got to be made, I think this is a very, very significant step forward.”He added: “If you’re asking me at the end of the day, do I think we’re going to pass this? I do.”A neighborhood in Austin, Texas, where many homes have solar panels. The blueprint of the legislation includes clean energy provisions and other social programs.Tamir Kalifa for The New York TimesAt the private lunch, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, outlined the proposal and the directives it would lay out.Democrats included the creation of a civilian climate corps to add jobs to address climate change and conservation, and to provide for child care, home care and housing investments. They are also expected to try to include a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants and address labor protections.Democrats would also extend expanded subsidies for Americans buying health insurance through the Affordable Care Act that were included in the broad pandemic aid law that Mr. Biden signed this year.Huge investments would go to renewable energy and a transformed electrical system to move the U.S. economy away from oil, natural gas and coal to wind, solar and other renewable sources. The budget blueprint is to include a clean energy standard, which would mandate the production of electricity driven by renewable sources and bolster tax incentives for the purchase of electric cars and trucks.To fully finance the bill, it is expected to include higher taxes on overseas corporate activities to alleviate incentives for sending profits overseas, higher capital gains rates for the wealthy, higher taxes on large inheritances and stronger tax law enforcement.Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Finance Committee, said on Wednesday that he was also preparing to overhaul a deduction for companies not organized as corporations, like many small businesses and law firms — created by the 2017 Republican tax law — in order to cut taxes from small businesses but raise additional revenues from wealthy business owners.Specific provisions will have to pass muster with the strict budgetary rules that govern the reconciliation process, which require that provisions affect spending and taxation, not just lay out new policies. The Senate parliamentarian could force Democrats to overhaul or outright jettison the clean energy standard, the provision that climate activists and many scientists most desire, as well as the immigration and labor provisions, among others.Moderate Democrats, who had balked at a progressive push to spend as much as $6 trillion on Mr. Biden’s entire economic agenda, largely declined to weigh in on the blueprint until they saw detailed legislation, saying they needed to evaluate more than an overall spending number.“We’ve got to get more meat on the bones for me,” Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana, told reporters, though he added that he would ultimately vote for the budget blueprint. “I’ve got to get more information on what’s in it.”The size of the package could be shaped by the success or failure of the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which would devote nearly $600 billion in new spending to roads, bridges, tunnels, transit and broadband. The group of lawmakers negotiating that package has yet to release legislative text as they haggle over the details of how to structure and pay for the plan.“I want to be able to tell people in South Carolina: I’m for this, I’m not for that,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesIf Republicans cannot deliver enough votes to move the package past a filibuster, Democrats could simply fold physical infrastructure spending into their reconciliation plan and take away any chance for Republicans to shape it, said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and one of the negotiators of the bipartisan bill.“If we don’t pass infrastructure, they’re going to put even more infrastructure in than we have and worse policies,” said Mr. Portman, who fielded skepticism from his colleagues at a private Republican lunch on Tuesday. Some Republicans had hoped that a bipartisan accord on physical infrastructure projects would siphon momentum from a multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package. Instead, it appears very much on track, and it may intensify the pressure on Republicans to come to terms on a bipartisan package, even if they fiercely oppose the rest of the Democrats’ agenda.“I want to be able to tell people in South Carolina: I’m for this, I’m not for that,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the top Republican on the Budget Committee and a peripheral presence in the bipartisan talks.He added that the lengthy floor debate over the blueprint would allow Republicans to “ferociously attack it, to have amendments that draw the distinctions between the parties, to scream to high heaven that this is not infrastructure.”Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat, said he looked “forward to reviewing this agreement” but was also interested in how the programs would be financed.Sarahbeth Maney/The New York TimesSenator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the centrist Democrat whose support might be determinative, told reporters after lunch with the president that he had concerns about some of the climate language. But he did not rule out supporting the budget proposal or the subsequent package. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona and another key moderate, also hung back on Wednesday.Still, the $3.5 trillion package had plenty in it to appeal to senior Democrats who were eager to use it to advance their longtime priorities. For Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the chairwoman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, it was an extension of a more generous child tax credit, as well as subsidies for child care, prekindergarten and paid family leave.For Mr. Sanders, it was the Medicare and climate provisions.“Finally, we are going to have America in the position of leading the world in combating climate change,” he said.Mr. Tester said the need for school construction was so high that trillions could go to that alone.“The plan is a strong first step,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, adding that she was focused on funding universal child care. “We’re slicing up the money now to find the right ways to make that happen.”The budget measure is expected to include language prohibiting tax increases on small businesses, farms and people making less than $400,000, fulfilling a promise Mr. Biden has maintained throughout the negotiations. Asked on Wednesday whether the proposed carbon tariff would violate that pledge, Mr. Wyden replied, “We’ve not heard that argument.”Lisa Friedman More

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    Democrats Propose $3.5 Trillion Budget to Advance with Infrastructure Deal

    The measure, which would include money to address climate change, expand Medicare and fulfill other Democratic priorities, is intended to deliver on President Biden’s economic proposal.WASHINGTON — Top Democrats announced on Tuesday evening that they had reached agreement on an expansive $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, including plans to pour money into addressing climate change and expanding Medicare among an array of other Democratic priorities, that they plan to advance alongside a bipartisan infrastructure deal.Combined with nearly $600 billion in new spending on physical infrastructure contained in the bipartisan plan, which omits many of Democrats’ highest ambitions, the measure is intended to deliver on President Biden’s $4 trillion economic proposal. The budget blueprint, expected to be dominated by spending, tax increases and programs that Republicans oppose, would pave the way for a Democrats-only bill that leaders plan to push through Congress using a process known as reconciliation, which shields it from a filibuster.To push the package — and the reconciliation bill that follows — through the evenly divided Senate, Democrats will have to hold together every member of their party and the independents aligned with them over what promises to be unified Republican opposition. It was not clear if all 50 lawmakers in the Democratic caucus, which includes centrists unafraid to break with their party like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, had signed off the blueprint. The package is considerably smaller than the $6 trillion some progressives had proposed but larger than some moderates had envisioned.Mr. Biden was set to attend lunch on Wednesday with Democrats, his first in-person lunch with the caucus since taking office, to rally the party around the plan and kick off the effort to turn it into a transformative liberal package. The blueprint, and subsequent bill, will also have to clear the House, where Democrats hold a razor-thin margin.The agreement, reached among Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and the 11 senators who caucus with the Democrats on the Budget Committee, came after a second consecutive day of meetings that stretched late into the evening. Louisa Terrell, Mr. Biden’s head of legislative affairs, and Brian Deese, his National Economic Council director, were also present for the meeting.“We are very proud of this plan,” Mr. Schumer said, emerging from the session flanked by the other Democrats in the corridor outside his office just off the Senate floor. “We know we have a long road to go. We’re going to get this done for the sake of making average Americans’ lives a whole lot better.”Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the liberal chairman of the Budget Committee, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, a key moderate who is negotiating the details of the bipartisan framework, also confirmed their support for the agreement, in impassioned remarks.“This is, in our view, a pivotal moment in American history,” proclaimed Mr. Sanders, who had initially called for a package as large as $6 trillion.Details about the outline were sparse on Tuesday evening, as many of the specifics of the legislative package will be hammered out after the blueprint is adopted. Mr. Warner said the plan would be fully paid for, though Democrats did not offer specifics about how they planned to do so. Discussions of how to raise that money are expected to continue in the coming days, one aide said.“I make no illusions how challenging this is going to be,” said Mr. Warner, who made a point of thanking both the committee and the bipartisan group he had been negotiating with. “I can’t think of a more meaningful effort that we’re taking on than what we’re doing right now.”The resolution is expected to include language prohibiting tax increases on small businesses and people making less than $400,000, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the accord, who disclosed details on the condition of anonymity.Mr. Schumer said the resolution would call for an expansion of Medicare to provide money for dental, vision and hearing benefits, a priority for liberals like Mr. Sanders. It is also likely to extend a temporary provision in the president’s pandemic relief law that greatly expands subsidies for Americans purchasing health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, one of the largest health measures since the law was passed more than a decade ago.“Every major program” requested by Mr. Biden would be “funded in a robust way,” Mr. Schumer said.Democrats will now have to hammer out the terms of the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which Mr. Schumer has said he hopes to pass in the Senate before the chamber leaves for the August recess. Once the resolution is passed, the caucus will then draft the legislative package, which will fund and detail their ambitious proposals — and most likely impose hefty tax increases on the rich and on corporations to pay for them.Even before the agreement was reached, committees had quietly been working on a series of proposals for the bill and discussing how to keep the bill within the confines of the strict rules that govern the reconciliation process.The Senate Finance Committee had been drafting tax provisions to help pay for the spending. They include a restructuring the international business tax code to tax overseas profits more heavily in an effort to discourage U.S. corporations from moving profits abroad. They would also collapse dozens of tax benefits aimed at energy companies — especially oil and gas firms — into three categories focused on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.Finance Committee Democrats will now turn their attention to the individual side of the tax code, where they want to raise taxes on large inheritances and raise capital gains tax rates on the richest Americans.On the spending side, Mr. Biden, working with Mr. Sanders, wants to make prekindergarten access universal and two years of community college free to all Americans. Money is expected to be devoted to a series of climate provisions, after liberal Democrats warned that they would not support the bipartisan framework without the promise of further climate action.Democrats also want to extend tax credits that were in the pandemic recovery plan for many years to come, including a $300-per-child credit for poor and middle-income families that began this week.The bipartisan infrastructure framework is expected to total $1.2 trillion, though about half that amount is simply the expected continuation of existing federal programs. Still, the nearly $600 billion in new spending, combined with funds already approved in Mr. Biden’s pandemic relief law and the pending infrastructure plan, could be transformative, steering government largess toward poor and middle-class families in amounts not seen since the New Deal.Jonathan Weisman More

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    Biden’s Economic Agenda Faces Familiar Hurdle With Fight Over Financing

    As Democrats pursue both bipartisan infrastructure negotiations and a catch-all economic package, old divisions persist on how to fund the spending.WASHINGTON — President Biden’s ambitions for a large-scale investment in the nation’s aging public works system along with other parts of his economic agenda hinge on what has always been the most difficult problem for lawmakers: agreeing on how to pay for the spending.That question has sent a group of centrist senators scrounging to find creative ways to cover nearly $600 billion in new spending that they want to include as part of a potential compromise plan to invest in roads, broadband internet, electric utilities and other federal infrastructure projects.The White House and Republicans have ruled out entire categories of potential ways to raise revenues. The impasse has become the subject of increasingly urgent talks between a large group of Senate Democrats, Republicans, White House officials and, at times, the president himself.Among the ideas that senators have discussed in recent days are repurposing unspent coronavirus relief funds, increasing enforcement by the I.R.S. and establishing user fees for drivers, including indexing the gas tax to inflation.Mr. Biden dispatched aides to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for discussions that his press secretary, Jen Psaki, said yielded progress but no agreement. Top White House officials are set to meet on Wednesday evening with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Those discussions will center on infrastructure negotiations as well as a separate effort to move a large chunk of the president’s $4 trillion economic agenda through the Senate without any Republican votes using a procedural mechanism known as reconciliation.Among those expected to attend the meeting are Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council; Steve Ricchetti, a top adviser to Mr. Biden; Louisa Terrell, the director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs; Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Susan E. Rice, who leads the White House Domestic Policy Council, according to an official familiar with the plans.Democratic leaders in Congress are preparing to move a sweeping, multitrillion-dollar bill through the reconciliation process to avoid the need for Republican votes and approve spending on physical infrastructure, education, emissions reduction, child care, paid leave, antipoverty efforts and more. But centrist Democrats in the Senate — along with Mr. Biden — have said repeatedly that they want to strike a deal with Republicans on what would be a pared-down version of the president’s plan to rebuild roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects.The bipartisan group has not reached public agreement on how to finance the spending. Moderates in both parties insist that any deal be paid for with new revenues. Mr. Biden has offered $4 trillion in potential revenue sources, all concentrated on increasing the tax burden on businesses and high earners. Republicans have countered with hundreds of billions of their own, including increased taxes for drivers and repurposing previously borrowed money from the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that Mr. Biden signed into law this year.The senators who spearheaded the original framework spent much of Tuesday huddling with Mr. Deese, Mr. Ricchetti and Ms. Terrell to iron out the details of an outline to provide for $1.2 trillion over eight years, of which $579 billion is new funding, and how to finance it.“These things are always complicated and tough,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, as he left the Capitol on Tuesday. “We’re getting there. We’re moving in the right direction.”Both sides did not appear to have enough common ground to formally announce how they would fund the plan. Shuttling across the Capitol for hourslong meetings scheduled around votes, the five Democrats and five Republicans declined to offer specifics beyond their prevailing optimism and plans to continue discussions.“Pay-fors,” Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, one of the Republicans negotiating the agreement, said when asked what the remaining stumbling blocks were. “Anytime you’re coming up with $579 billion, you’ve got to figure out how to do it.”Mr. Biden has pledged to not raise taxes on the middle class, including at the gasoline pump. Senate Republicans refuse to increase tax rates for businesses and high earners. Both sides have dug in, to the surprise of some business leaders and other lobbyists in Washington.White House officials have shifted in recent weeks to pressing Republicans to support one of Mr. Biden’s proposals that would not amount to an increase in tax rates: a plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on increased enforcement by the I.R.S. The administration says such a plan would collect hundreds of billions of dollars from high earners and corporations that owe, but do not pay, their fair share of taxes. Republicans say they are concerned about the scope of the provision, but they have continued to discuss it in private meetings.“I would say we’ve put a lot of different options on pay-fors on the table,” Ms. Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. “And our view is: There’s a fundamental question right now. Are Republicans, members of Congress, do they believe that rich people should have to pay the taxes they owe, or should we increase the cost of travelers who are just trying to make it to work? That’s the basic question here. So we’ll see if they can make progress on that exact point.”Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, is among the group of centrists that reached a tentative agreement on a framework for an infrastructure plan this month.Erin Schaff/The New York TimesLawmakers expressed optimism that a deal could be reached this week, but they acknowledged the division over raising revenues. “It’s always the hard part of an infrastructure package,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who unsuccessfully tried to negotiate an even narrower package with Mr. Biden.“There’s a pretty good dividing line sometimes between Republicans and Democrats — certainly is on taxes,” she added. “But the president’s taken any kind of user fee off the table — which is traditionally where you pay for these things — so that just makes it extra hard.”Neil Bradley, the executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said on Tuesday that he expected any final deal to include some money from Mr. Biden’s plans to increase I.R.S. enforcement.He said he expected a final deal to have some pay-for surprises. “I suspect they’re going to have some creative ones that we don’t know about yet,” Mr. Bradley said.The debate over how to finance Mr. Biden’s economic agenda will also extend to any package that lawmakers seek to push through using reconciliation, which could be as much as $6 trillion. Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, has asked Democrats on the panel to outline their priorities for the package as he aims to pass a budget blueprint to start the process by July.“I think the priorities that the president has established, that we have established, are solid,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview as he described his strategy. “But, you know, we’re going to have to make sure that we end up with numbers that 50 members can agree on.”He added that his intention was to pay for new initiatives — like child care subsidies and health care expansion — through “progressive taxation,” including raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. But he did not extend that to one-off spending like road or bridge repairs or improving water systems, saying, “it is not necessary to pay for, in my view, one-time capital improvements in the infrastructure.”In an early indication of what Mr. Sanders called an effort to “soothe the edges,” he said he was open to relaxing a $10,000 cap on how much taxpayers can deduct in state and local taxes.Several Democrats, particularly lawmakers representing New York and California, have warned that they might not support any changes to the tax code that do not address that provision. A draft budget document circulated by staff on Capitol Hill and obtained by The New York Times appeared to include funds for a partial repeal of the state and local tax deduction, which could mean eliminating the cap for all but the highest earners, or raising the level of the cap. There were few details about how those funds would be distributed, and lawmakers and aides cautioned that the plan was in flux.“I have a problem with extremely wealthy people being able to get the complete deduction,” Mr. Sanders said. “I think that’s an issue we’ll have to work on.”Cecilia Kang More

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    Senate Passes Bill to Bolster Competitiveness With China

    The wide margin of support reflected a sense of urgency among lawmakers in both parties about shoring up the technological and industrial capacity of the United States to counter Beijing.WASHINGTON — The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation on Tuesday that would pour nearly a quarter-trillion dollars over the next five years into scientific research and development to bolster competitiveness against China. More