United States President Joe Biden gestures at Senator Shelley Capito (R-WV) during an infrastructure meeting with Republican Senators at the White House in Washington May 13, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Joe Biden turned down a new Republican infrastructure counteroffer Friday but will continue talks with Republicans next week as the White House debates whether to give up hopes of a bipartisan deal.
During a conversation with the President on Friday, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.V., proposed increasing the GOP’s scope by about $ 50 billion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. The Republicans recently tabled a $ 928 billion plan. Biden most recently proposed a $ 1.7 trillion package.
Biden signaled that the “current offering was not in line with its goals of growing the economy, fighting the climate crisis and creating new jobs,” she added. Despite downing the latest proposal, Biden will meet with Capito again on Monday and plans to talk to senators from both parties about a “more substantial package,” according to Psaki.
In the course of the talks, the Democrats also pushed a law on land transportation in the House of Representatives. The legislation could serve as a means to approve key portions of Biden’s $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure package through a series of mandatory expense bills.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Introduced the bill on Friday. It would invest $ 547 billion over five years in roads and bridges, as well as rail and other public transportation.
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DeFazio has set a committee to review the bill for Wednesday, a date that could come closest to a real deadline for Biden and Senate Republicans to reach an agreement on infrastructure. Biden spoke to DeFazio separately to “offer his assistance” for the law hearing.
The parties have been trying to forge a compromise for weeks, but seem far removed from how much money they will spend on infrastructure and how the investments will be paid for. Monday marks the day Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the White House wanted to see “clear direction” in the talks.
Biden might have to decide whether to pursue a massive infrastructure package with only democratic votes. Members of his own party could complicate the process: West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin on Thursday expressed doubts about using special budget rules to pass a bill in hopes of a bipartisan deal. Biden would need every Democratic vote in the Senate if a plan lacks GOP support.
Biden has told Capito that he wants a bill that includes at least $ 1 trillion in new money – or an increase in spending under the existing policy. The Republican plan would only provide about $ 250 billion in new funding.
The president also put forward alternatives to his proposal to pay a bill by raising the corporate tax rate to at least 25%, which Republicans oppose. Biden mentioned the possibility of introducing a minimum 15% corporate tax as some profitable companies manage to pay little or no tax. (The White House stressed that Biden continues to support a corporate rate hike).
However, it is unclear whether Republicans will accept Biden’s admission.
The discussions highlighted fundamental differences in terms of infrastructure and the role of the federal government in a changing economy. The White House wants a plan that not only includes upgrading transportation, broadband and water systems, but also investing in clean energy, care for dependent family members, homes and schools.
The GOP would like a closer focus on areas such as roads, bridges, airports, broadband and water systems.
Regardless of whether Biden opts for a bipartisan deal or only passes law with the support of the Democrats, he could face a backlash from the Democrats. Some progressive lawmakers, including Rep. Jamaal Bowman, DN.Y., have become suspicious of the president’s efforts to cut his original $ 2.3 trillion proposal to win Republican votes.
“If what we’ve read is true, it would be very difficult for me to vote for this bill,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “$ 2 trillion was already the compromise. President Biden cannot expect us to vote for an infrastructure deal dictated by the Republican Party.”
Still, Psaki signaled on Friday that the government has not closed the door to a bipartisan deal. She told reporters “there is still the runway left” during the talks.
However, she suggested that the White House limit the length of negotiations with the Republicans.
“There are some realities of the schedules” in the talks, she said, “including the fact that Congressman DeFazio will lead the marking of key components of the American employment plan next week.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has told his parliamentary group that he wants to pass an infrastructure bill by July.
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