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What's next for the Senate? Bipartisan group of 20 senators to meet to discuss agenda

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A bipartisan group of 20 senators are planning to meet on Wednesday to discuss what issue they may tackle next. The meeting comes one week after the Senate passed President Joe Biden's massive $1.9 trillion economic relief plan, Mr. Biden's first legislative initiative. 

Moderate senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a Republican, told reporters on Tuesday that the meeting is to continue to build upon the working relationships between Republicans and Democrats. A bipartisan group of senators, including Manchin and Murkowski, worked closely together late last year to develop a framework for COVID-19 relief legislation that passed in December. Murkowski speculated that the group may discuss an infrastructure package.  A source familiar with the meeting said the meeting will be in person.

"It's not like a committee meeting where we've got an agenda, which I think is good," Murkowski said. "I think you need to have that more open structure just for dialogue."

Politico was first to report on the meeting.

Senate Republicans who are members of this bipartisan group met with Mr. Biden earlier this year to discuss the administration's stimulus plan and to find areas to compromise. Senate Democrats instead rejected the $618 billion COVID-19 relief counteroffer and passed the American Rescue Plan through a process known as budget reconciliation, which requires a simple majority vote instead of 60 votes to pass legislation.

Manchin told Axios in an interview earlier this month that he will oppose an infrastructure package if it goes through the reconciliation process because he wants Republican input on the bill. On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told reporters that he still intends to use reconciliation for an infrastructure bill.

"One always wants to try to go a bipartisan route," Sanders added. "But what I have seen this year and in past years is that if we want to do something significant, it is very hard to get Republican support. So the devil is of course in the details." 

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