Joe Biden made another offer to Senate Republicans to get them on board his infrastructure bill. He has lowered the spending amount from $2.3 trillion to $1.7 trillion and removed most of the “non-infrastructure” spending in the bill.
But Republicans aren’t budging from their opposition, saying that the new proposal is still too much to spend after the trillions already spent on pandemic relief.
In a statement from Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who is heading up GOP negotiations, Republicans argue there is no consensus to spend that amount with no means to pay for it.
Hours later Senate Republicans said the offer remained “well above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support.” The two sides remained divided on every aspect of a possible deal, including its size, scope, and how to pay for it, according to a statement from a spokeswoman for the lead GOP negotiator, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
Negotiators “seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden,” the statement said, adding that GOP senators would continue to review the new White House plan and engage in negotiations.
Biden lowered his proposed spending on highways and broadband and shifted some programs into other legislation in his new offer. But he’s still far above anything that Republicans have ever considered spending on an infrastructure plan.
The GOP’s current offer is a bill to fix roads, highways, and bridges that would total $568 billion. Donald Trump, the infrastructure-friendly Republican, wanted to spend about $1 trillion on roads and broadband. But Biden’s gargantuan scheme to “transform” America using infrastructure as an excuse and not a goal, pleases his union friends and the radicals in the Democratic Party, and not too many others.
Biden apparently believes moving a few zeroes around will get Republicans on board. That’s not very likely.
It proposed pursuing $480 billion in funding for research, development and manufacturing initiatives in other legislation. The White House showed no signs of budging on its plan to raise corporate taxes to pay for the program, which Republicans have called a nonstarter. Aides in both parties expect the disagreements over financing to be difficult to overcome.
Administration officials made the counteroffer during a Friday videoconference with the group of Senate Republicans who have put forward the $568 billion plan. The Republican proposal funds a narrower slice of priorities over five years, though GOP negotiators have discussed funding a larger package over eight years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has said Republicans could support a package of up to $800 billion.
The radicals have been prodding Biden to break off negotiations with the Republicans and take the bill to reconciliation where it can pass with a simple majority. But that path may not be open to Biden because two Democratic Senators — Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema — have indicated they would oppose using reconciliation for infrastructure legislation.
Biden will keep trying to get Republicans on board until May 31 — his unofficial deadline to offer a proposal to Congress. After that, it’s likely Biden will return to his original $2.3 trillion proposal and send it to Congress anyway.