GOP support for bipartisan infrastructure deal going wobbly

Moran isn’t alone. Another of the framework’s supporters, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), said at the moment he is not 100 percent committed to voting for the bipartisan plan.

“We don’t know what’s in it yet,” Rounds said. “I’m favorably impressed with what’s been done, but we’re going to wait and look at the final thing. So there’s still a lot of negotiations going on.”

Comments by those two technically supportive Republicans illustrates that, after a two-week recess, GOP support for an aisle-crossing deal with President Joe Biden is soft. The bipartisan infrastructure deal that five Senate Republicans helped sell to Biden is under harsh scrutiny from the right, testing the support of GOP centrists who will be crucial to getting the bill past a guaranteed filibuster.

The core of support from five senators that directly negotiated the deal with Democrats and the White House is solid: Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Rob Portman of Ohio. A second group of GOP senators who support the concept will be critical to actually passing the bill.

Those senators include Moran, Rounds, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Richard Burr of North Carolina. Several of them are close to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is undecided and could help sink it.

“The details will matter. I think a lot of our members are going to look at: How credible are the pay-fors, how large is this?” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune. “For our members, it’s really going to come down to whether it’s all put on the debt.”

As a group of moderates in both parties drafts the nearly $1 trillion legislation, conservatives are bombarding it with attacks for using increased IRS enforcement as a financing mechanism. And as the bipartisan framework becomes more real ahead of a Senate vote as soon as next week, more Republicans are growing publicly concerned that it would clear the way for trillions more in spending on liberal priorities and tax increases.

And many Republicans say that the bill’s financing system, which also includes privatization of infrastructure, unused coronavirus aid and leftover unemployment benefits, may end up scoring poorly with the Congressional Budget Office. Once the bill is drafted, the CBO will calculate the bill’s projected cost and revenue — and many in the GOP think that the mix of money for the new spending will come up short.