Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Sunday a bipartisan group working on an infrastructure package is near agreement, with one outstanding issue to resolve: mass transit funding.
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Portman said “we’re about 90% of the way there” and planned to work through Sunday.
“We’re going to legislate the language with colleagues and with staff, and I feel good about getting that done this week,” he said. “We have one issue outstanding. And we're not getting much response from the Democrats on it.”
“It's about mass transit,” he said. “Our transit number is generous. We increased transit in this proposal. We also increased the formula going forward. That's the one issue that’s outstanding frankly at this point. My hope is that we'll see progress on that yet today.”
Portman was outraged that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had indicated earlier she’d refuse to hold a vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal until reconciliation was also passed by Senate.
“I’m not happy with what she said because it's inconsistent with the agreement that we have on a bipartisan basis,” he said, adding, “if she has her way, we could [end up with nothing]. I’m not sure what the future is on reconciliation. I know that the bipartisan infrastructure package is very popular among the American people and in the United States Congress because it makes sense. We need it badly.”
According to Portman, with support of 87% of the American people, “it's the right thing to do.”
“It's been totally bipartisan from the start,” he said. “It's the way we ought to be doing things here in Washington to get stuff done and I can’t believe the Speaker of the House would be blocking it.”
Portman also pushed back on an editorial in the Wall Street Journal criticizing a bipartisan deal.
“I think the editorial reflects the fact that this city, Washington, D.C., is not used to this,” Portman said. “We're building from the middle out and coming up with something that is truly bipartisan…. they suggest that somehow this will be bad for the economy. It's good for the economy. Every economist that's looked at it says that.:”
Portman also defended his stance that it’s not the right time to raise the debt ceiling.
“At a time when we have incredibly high inflation, the highest we've had probably in 20 years… it's a huge new spending increase at a time when we have unprecedented levels of debt, over $30 trillion soon, a trillion-dollar deficit likely this year and then the largest tax increase in American history,” he argued.
“The debt ceiling has to be raised because of these tax and spending policies,” he added. “We need to insure we get the spending under control. So, typically, when we do a debt ceiling, as you know, there's attached to it some restraint on spending.”
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