An Unlikely Pair, Portman and Sinema Steer Infrastructure Deal
During these discussions, Mr. Portman, who was President George W. Bush’s budget manager, helped lead the political discussions for Republicans, while Ms. Sinema organized the group’s meetings and helped stay focused. on current issues.
“They have a good relationship with each other and in a relationship built on trust,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said of the couple in an interview.
In order to finalize the deal, senators eventually split into small working groups, each tasked with defining different aspects of the bill, including transit and broadband projects and funding arrangements.
At her birthday dinner last Saturday night, Ms Sinema was on appeal with Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Ms Collins, reconciling a series of accounting figures on money not spent on pandemic relief, a key funding mechanism, Collins recalled. (Having dubbed the four Senators “the Wonder Women,” Ms. Sinema presented the other three stemless wine glasses with the superhero logo.)
Mr Portman spent nine hours Tuesday in his conference room in the Russell Senate office building with White House adviser Steve Ricchetti pondering how to resolve the remaining issues, including funding for public transportation .
At one point, Mr. Portman’s phone became so cluttered with voicemail messages that Mr. Biden was unable to leave a message for him, according to a Republican official close to the talks. (They logged in later.)
“I really appreciated the constant communication they both had,” Pete Buttigieg, the transport secretary, said of Mr. Portman and Ms. Sinema during the negotiations.
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