President Joe Biden thanks reporters and visitors as he departs from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington for Wilmington, Delaware on June 18, 2021.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
President Joe Biden expects to meet with lawmakers this week as a group of Democrats and Republicans try to forge an infrastructure plan that could come with bipartisan support from Congress, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday .
At least 21 senators from both parties have endorsed a framework that aims to spend approximately $ 1 trillion on transportation, broadband and water systems. Congressional leaders von Biden and the Democrats have raised questions about how lawmakers will pay for the plan, while Liberals have labeled it inadequate to tackle climate change.
The president’s talks this week could be a final push to find a compromise before the Democrats attempt to pass a large infrastructure plan of their own. As discussions between Democrats and Republicans progress, Biden’s party has begun drafting a budget resolution that would allow them to pass a bill without a GOP vote.
A bipartisan deal might now depend on whether the White House and Republicans can reach a funding compromise and what the Democratic leaders promise to skeptical progressives, who they can pass as part of a separate bill. Biden will not support a possible increase in gasoline taxes or mileage charges on vehicles – revenue increases as part of the bipartisan talks – because it would break his promise not to increase taxes for those earning less than $ 400,000 a year, Psaki told reporters on Monday.
“This is a non-runner for him,” she said.
Psaki added that Biden is helping enforce the IRS to ensure wealthy people don’t evade existing taxes. This would meet a call by Republicans not to revise the 2017 GOP tax cuts, she said.
Biden initially called for the corporate tax rate to be increased to 28% to pay for his $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.
Disagreements over how broad the proposal should be and how it should be paid for threatens to topple the bipartisan plan in the Senate. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent Vermonter sitting with the Democrats, said Sunday he would not support a higher gasoline tax or an electric vehicle mileage charge as part of an infrastructure bill.
“One of the concerns I have about the bipartisan bill is how they will pay for their proposals, and they are not yet clear,” he told Meet the Press. “I don’t know if they still remember, but some of the speculation is about a gas tax that I don’t support, a charge on electric vehicles, the privatization of infrastructure. These are proposals that I would not support.”
The bipartisan group could consider excluding a gas tax hike from the plan, Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman and one of the negotiators told Meet the Press on Sunday. He said the Biden administration would “have to come up with other ideas without raising taxes”.
Meanwhile, Democrats, including Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, have said they will not support a bill that contains no further resources to combat climate change. On Monday he told MSNBC that he “cannot support an agreement that does not focus on the climate”.
Some Democrats have signaled that the party could seek to pass a broader climate change bill without the Republicans after Congress approves a bipartisan infrastructure plan. Markey said he needed “an absolute guarantee that the climate will be dealt with” in a second bill to support the bipartisan framework.
Eleven Republicans have said they support the plan. In the evenly split Senate, only one Democrat could oppose it to win the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster.
The plan put forward by the Democratic and Republican senators focuses on what the GOP has called physical infrastructure. Biden and his party have pushed for guidelines to be adopted as part of their infrastructure plans that include care for dependent family members and upgrading homes and schools, arguing that they are necessary to stimulate the economy.
If the Democrats can’t reach an agreement with the GOP, they could push a multi-trillion dollar proposal that would not only upgrade transportation, utilities and broadband, but also accelerate clean energy adoption, expand childcare and promote vocational training programs. To be successful, all 50 Senate Democrats would have to vote for this bill.
At least one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has insisted on passing an infrastructure bill with Republican votes. It is unclear if he would support a separate reconciliation law if Congress passed an initial infrastructure plan with bipartisan support.
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