Live Updates: GOP Senators Say Agreement Reached on Infrastructure Plan
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, speaks during a press conference
Here’s what you need to know to navigate the markets today.
• Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) said Wednesday that a bipartisan group of negotiators has reached an agreement on the “major issues” of the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package, The Wall Street Journal reported. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) told lawmakers earlier to be ready for a vote as soon as Wednesday night to open debate on the package, saying on Tuesday that “the number of issues has been narrowed significantly,” the Journal reported. The bipartisan group of 10 senators has spent weeks trying to hammer out the details of a deal that is about $600 billion above projected federal spending to improve roads, bridges, broadband access, clean water systems and other measures. Some lawmakers late Tuesday said that the two sides were getting closer on a late sticking point: how much funding to direct to public transit. After Democrats pushed for an increase, Republicans sent a new offer, beefing up how much transit money they were willing to include, GOP lawmakers and aides said. Democrats have also been trying to coalesce the 50 members of their caucus to support a separate $3.5 trillion package of healthcare, education, climate change and antipoverty provisions they will try to pass along party lines.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden met with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), a member of the bipartisan group, at the White House on Tuesday, and said they were “very much aligned on a path forward,” adding that the end of negotiations frequently involved “some of the trickiest discussions.” Remaining points of discussion include spending on broadband access, as well as sources of revenue to pay for the bill, including unspent funds from previous Covid-19 relief packages. “We’re enthusiastic about getting the bipartisan infrastructure plan across the finish line—confident we’ll be there soon,” Psaki said.
• New York State will mandate that all state employees either be vaccinated or get tested regularly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced via Twitter on Wednesday. “We are working with the state unions to implement this program quickly & fairly. Will take effect by Labor Day.” In a followup tweet, he said: “Our healthcare workers carried us through this pandemic—and we owe it to them to do what we can to keep Delta under control,” referring to the more contagious Delta variant. “NYS will require patient-facing healthcare workers at State hospitals to get vaccinated to help keep both patients and workers safe,” he said. The new policy follows Monday’s announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers, including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants. Veterans Affairs said it has lost four unvaccinated employees to Covid-19 in recent weeks, and has seen outbreaks among unvaccinated employees and trainees at a VA Law Enforcement Training Center.
• Britain reported 131 new deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday, the highest daily total since March 17, although that number could have included some weekend deaths, Reuters reported. The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus has risen to 5,918, also the highest since March. Although the number of new cases has declined every day for the past week, to 23,511 new cases on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed that the pandemic was not over. “It is very, very important that we don’t allow ourselves to run away with premature conclusions about (lower case numbers),” Johnson told broadcasters, noting that the data doesn’t reflect the lifting of most remaining pandemic restrictions in England on July 19. “People have got to remain very cautious and that remains the approach of the government.”
Imperial College epidemiologist Neil Ferguson told the BBC that the effective end of Britain’s pandemic could be just months away, because vaccinations have dramatically curbed the risk of hospitalization and death. “We’re not completely out of the woods but the equation has fundamentally changed,” Ferguson said. “I’m positive that by late September, October time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic.” U.S. experts are hoping that the drop in cases in the U.K. previews an easing of the Delta-induced spread that could arrive here in a matter of weeks. “If the U.K. is turning the corner, it’s a pretty good indication that maybe we’re further into this than we think, and maybe we’re 2 or 3 weeks away from starting to see our own plateau here in the United States,” former Food and Drug Administration commissioner and current
board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday.
• President Joe Biden heads to Mack Trucks’ Lehigh Valley Operations Manufacturing Facility in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday, where he will talk at 2 p.m. about American manufacturing, buying products made in America, and supporting American jobs. The White House said he will propose changes to the nearly 90-year-old Buy American Act, urging the federal government to increase the American-made content in the products it buys, “from helicopter blades to trucks to office furniture,” and support the domestic sourcing of “products critical to our national and economic security.” Noting that the federal government is the world’s single largest purchaser of consumer goods, Biden aims to increase the percentage of components made in the U.S. to 75% of the products bought with taxpayer dollars, He also wants to trengthen domestic supply chains for critical goods, and require contractors to report the total domestic content in their products.
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