The leading Republican negotiator for the bipartisan infrastructure talks raised expectations Sunday that an agreement could be reached this week — even though lawmakers have hit a stumbling block over spending for public transit.
“We’re about 90 percent of the way there — I feel good about getting that done this week,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“We have one issue outstanding, and we’re not getting much response from the Democrats on it,” he said. “It’s about mass transit. Our transit number is very generous.”
Sen. Mark Warner, the top negotiator for Democrats, also shared optimism that a deal will be reached as early as Monday after settling some issues on how the $1.2 trillion package would be paid for.
“We’re down to the last couple of items, and I think you’re going to see a bill Monday afternoon,” Warner (D-Va.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wanted to put the bipartisan infrastructure deal and a companion $3.5 trillion budget package up for a vote before the Senate leaves for the August recess.
The Democrats want to approve the infrastructure deal with bipartisan support, but get the spending bill OKed through reconciliation — a Senate procedure that would allow them to pass legislation with a simple majority in the narrowly divided 50-50 chamber and bypass Republicans.
All 50 GOP Senators shot down a procedural vote brought by Schumer last week that would have allowed the chamber to begin deliberating the bill — because the text hadn’t been written yet.
Still, complicating the matter is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who on Sunday reiterated her vow not to allow the House to vote on infrastructure unless the Senate passed the $3.5 trillion spending bill first.
“The fact is that the president has said he wants to have a bipartisan bill, and we all do, but that is not the limitation of the vision of the president,” Pelosi, of California, said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “I won’t put it on the floor until we have the rest of the initiative.”
Her remarks didn’t sit well with Portman.
“I’m not happy with what she said,” he said later during his appearance on “This Week.” “It’s inconsistent with the agreement that we have on a bipartisan basis.”
“Does that mean we’ll end up with nothing?” host George Stephanopoulos asked Portman.
“If she has her way, we could,” Portman replied. “I can’t believe the speaker of the House would be blocking it.”