The latest on infrastructure negotiations in Congress

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:49 PM ET, Fri October 1, 2021
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1:54 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Here's what is in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Pelosi is racing to get votes for 

From CNN's Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby

A high-speed rail line is constructed over a highway in Fresno, California, on August 26.
A high-speed rail line is constructed over a highway in Fresno, California, on August 26. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)

The Senate passed a massive, $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in August and now the House needs to vote on it before it goes to President Biden's desk to be signed into law.

The path to get to a final vote still remains uncertain. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders are working to build support and get enough votes for the bill as progressives threaten to tank it they don't strike a deal with moderates on a separate sweeping spending package.

Here's what the infrastructure bill would fund:

  • Funding for Roads and Bridges: The deal calls for investing $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, according to the summary. Included is $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation, according to the bill text. The White House says it would be the single, largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system, which started in the 1950s.The deal also contains $16 billion for major projects that would be too large or complex for traditional funding programs, according to the White House.
  • Money for transit and rail: The package would provide $39 billion to modernize public transit, according to the bill text.The funds would repair and upgrade existing infrastructure, make stations accessible to all users, bring transit service to new communities and modernize rail and bus fleets, including replacing thousands of vehicles with zero-emission models, according to the White House.
  • Broadband upgrade: The bill would provide a $65 billion investment in improving the nation's broadband infrastructure, according to the bill text. t also aims to help lower the price households pay for internet service by requiring federal funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren't providing adequate service. It would also create a permanent federal program to help more low-income households access the internet, according to the White House fact sheet.
  • Upgrading airports, ports and waterways: The deal would invest $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports and promote electrification and other low-carbon technologies, according to the White House.
  • Electric vehicles: The bill would provide $7.5 billion for zero- and low-emission buses and ferries, aiming to deliver thousands of electric school buses to districts across the country, according to the White House. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text.
  • Improving power and waterways: The bill would invest $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid, according to the White House. It calls for building thousands of miles of new power lines and expanding renewable energy, the White House said. It would provide $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure, according to the bill text and another $50 billion would go toward making the system more resilient — protecting it from drought, floods and cyber attacks.
  • Environmental remediation: The bill would provide $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells, according to the White House.

Read more about what is in the bill here.

1:23 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

House majority leader says caucus meeting will happen later today and votes are still possible

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters today that another Democratic caucus meeting will take place later this afternoon, as they are, “working on trying to get to a place where everybody is comfortable.”

He would only say that votes this afternoon on the bipartisan infrastructure package or the highway funding extension were “a possibility.”

1:43 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Biden will go to Capitol Hill this afternoon to speak with House Democrats as infrastructure talks intensify 

From CNN's DJ Judd, Ryan Nobles and Kristin Wilson 

President Joe Biden walks to the Oval Office on Wednesday, September 29.
President Joe Biden walks to the Oval Office on Wednesday, September 29. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

President Biden will travel to Capitol Hill this afternoon to speak with members of the House Democratic Caucus, the White House said Friday.

Biden is currently scheduled to meet with House Democrats at 3:30 p.m. ET, according to a source familiar with his plans.

Where things stand in Congress: A $2.1 trillion compromise framework has been floated by Democratic leaders and the White House after an all-day sprint to bridge the gap between their party's opposing factions.

The agreement Democratic leaders and the White House are attempting to craft isn't meant to be a detailed provision-by-provision rundown of the final economic and climate package, but instead the general parameters that, possibly, could unlock progressive votes on the infrastructure measure.

While there isn't a final document, the outline circulated between key players on Thursday evening targeted a top-line number of $2.1 trillion and laid out the baseline elements of the climate, social and health care areas, according to two people with direct knowledge of the efforts.

CNN's Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox contributed reporting to this post. 

12:41 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Progressives' chair after caucus meeting: "Very confident of our numbers" to vote down infrastructure

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and Annie Grayer

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting on Friday.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting on Friday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Congressional Progressive Caucus chair, left the Democratic caucus meeting and told reporters she is still confident her members will vote down the bipartisan infrastructure bill if the dynamics stay as they are.

“I’m very confident of our numbers,” Jayapal said.

“We’re going to keep working as hard as we can, we’ll see how far we get. I don’t believe in arbitrary deadlines,” Jayapal said when asked if she believes there will be a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Jayapal kept it vague about progress on the broader social safety net package, saying, “I think there’s a lot of really good conversations happening. So let’s just keep them going.”

Asked directly how she felt about the $2.1 trillion top-line number being floated from the White House, Jayapal said, “we just haven’t gotten a real offer, so until we do, we’re not going to comment on numbers.”

Jayapal said she was not worried about passing a separate highway extension bill because Congress has passed numerous short-term extensions in the past. 

Jayapal gave a nod to the growing frustration that some members are starting to feel in the stalemate in negotiations, but tried to be optimistic in her message:

“You know there's sometimes frustration, but we're all part of the Democratic Party; this is the Democratic agenda, it’s the President's agenda and we're excited to be fighting for the same thing.”

Read more about where negotiations stand here.

12:26 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Biden coming to Capitol Hill to negotiate directly "would be pretty powerful," moderate Democrat says

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and Annie Grayer

Moderate Democratic Rep. Ami Bera believes President Biden should play a more front and center role in building momentum to make a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill happen today.

“I just think the President ought to weigh in and make specific asks to get this done,” Bera said. “It’s his agenda”

Bera added that if Biden came to the Hill to negotiate directly with members, “I think that would be pretty powerful.”

Bera said if Biden asked for a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill today, “I think that would have real impact.”

11:44 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

House moderate says spending bill won't come together today

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Democrat, was asked if he had any sense of how long it would take for the wider spending bill to come together.

His response: “It won’t be today.”

“It’s a process and, you know, you’ve got to have trust in the process,” he added. 

11:42 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Key House progressive still holding out for Senate vote on broader social safety net package

From CNN's Kristin Wilson, Lauren Fox and Annie Grayer

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to reporters at the US Capitol on October 1.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to reporters at the US Capitol on October 1. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a key progressive Democrat, told reporters “we need a vote," as she headed into the Democratic caucus meeting, batting away questions about whether a framework on the broader social safety net package would be enough for her to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure deal. 

When Ocasio-Cortez was asked about the $1.5 trillion number floated by Sen. Joe Manchin, she said, “I think we still need to take a look at that.”

What this is about: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled against putting a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on the floor last night, according to a leadership aide, after progressives rebelled, potentially delaying consideration until Democrats strike an agreement on separate, much larger social safety net and climate legislation.

Progressives hope their hardball tactics would push moderates to support their top priority: a $3.5 trillion bill known as the Build Back Better Act. That legislation would expand the child tax credit and Medicare's ability to cover vision, hearing and dental care, fund community college and universal pre-kindergarten initiatives, combat climate change, and fund elder care and paid leave programs.

Today, Ocasio-Cortez was asked if she felt Biden had gotten involved in negotiations too late. Ocasio-Cortez came to the President’s defense by saying he has not because “a lot of these negotiations has to do with our business here in the House and the Senate.”

“I think that the President has been playing a convening role, and he's exploring the contours of the positive contribution he can make” Ocasio-Cortez added.

 

11:05 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Progressive caucus leader says she's spoken with White House several times since last night

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters outside the US Capitol on September 30.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters outside the US Capitol on September 30. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters on Capitol Hill that lawmakers will deliver on both the infrastructure and reconciliation bills but did not give a clear date on a timeline.

"I've said before that Monday was arbitrary. I told my friends, [moderate Rep. Josh Gottheimer] and others, that they shouldn't back themselves into a corner because if we weren't there, we weren't there. This is the legislative process. It has to work itself out. Hopefully, it will be soon. We're going to work — I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying in Washington, DC. I'm going to do all the work I can to get it done. Hopefully, it can be soon. But we'll work it through and see what the timeline is," she said.

Jayapal said she has spoken with the White House several times since last night.

President Biden is "deeply engaged in trying to iron out these differences," Jayapal said.

"Would I have preferred that he, you know, engage sooner on the reconciliation bill? Sure. But we've had a number of other issues come up. And I feel he's doing what he needs to be doing right now," she said.

When asked if she's willing to concede on her top-line number for the bill, she said, "I think I've already said we have to get everybody on board."

10:42 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Pelosi says negotiations continue when walking into US Capitol

From CNN's Melanie Zanon and Daniella Díaz 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives at the US Capitol on Friday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives at the US Capitol on Friday. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said negotiations are continuing today as she walked into the US Capitol this morning. 

“We’re on a path,” she said. “It’ll probably be useful for us to have a conversation later today.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said “we’ll see” when CNN asked if there would be a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill today.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn also walked in but didn’t say much.