Senate Republicans Thursday tabled their $ 928 billion counteroffer for infrastructure to President Joe Biden as the sides see if they can bridge an ideological divide to strike a bipartisan deal.
The plan includes:
- $ 506 billion for roads, bridges, and major infrastructure projects, including $ 4 billion for electric vehicles
- $ 98 billion for public transportation
- $ 72 billion for water systems
- $ 65 billion for broadband
- $ 56 billion for airports
- $ 46 billion for passenger and freight rail systems
- $ 22 billion for ports and waterways
- $ 22 billion for water storage
- $ 21 billion in security measures
- $ 20 billion in infrastructure funding
Biden’s most recent offer to Republicans was $ 1.7 trillion – $ 600 billion less than his original plan. He has asked the GOP to put at least $ 1 trillion in an infrastructure package.
Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Chairman, R-Ky., Told CNBC that the GOP could make additional offers following Thursday’s proposal.
“We will continue to talk, and I understand that the President is ready to continue talking. … We want to achieve a result for an important infrastructure package,” he said on Thursday to “Squawk on the Street”.
In order to reach an agreement, the sides would not only have to close a price gap, but also have different ideas about how the expenses can be balanced. In their counteroffer, the Republicans again rejected Biden’s request to raise corporate taxes, claiming they could cover infrastructure costs with funds already allocated by Congress or with transportation fees.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the senators’ offer. Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Said it was not a “serious counter-offer”.
“First of all, they don’t get paid for it, it’s not real,” the progressive Democrat told MSNBC. “They have this illusory idea of how we’re going to take money that has already been used for other places and other expenses.”
The GOP proposal doesn’t include Biden administration priorities such as $ 400 billion for home health care, $ 100 billion for consumer discounts on electric vehicles, or spending on home and school modernization.
Republicans and the White House are closer to agreeing an infrastructure plan but have yet to resolve basic issues about the size of a package and payment, a GOP senator who led the talks said Thursday. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said the sides are approaching negotiations before Memorial Day, the date by which the White House wanted to see progress in the bipartisan negotiations.
“We’re still talking. I’m optimistic we still have a big gap,” the West Virginia Republican told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “I think where we really fall short, we can’t get the White House to agree on a definition or scope of infrastructure that we believe corresponds to the physical core infrastructure.”
“The White House is still putting its human infrastructure into this package, and that’s just a beginner for us,” she continued, referring to Biden’s plans to put money into programs like caring for the elderly and disabled Americans.
It is unclear whether the two parties can overcome huge ideological differences in what constitutes infrastructure and how to pay for improvements in order to reach a bipartisan deal. If the negotiations are not promising, the Democrats will have to decide whether to try to pass an infrastructure bill on their own using specific budget rules.
From left, Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., and Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Hold their press conference in the Capitol to announce the counter-offer for GOP infrastructure on Thursday Jan. May 2021.
Bill Clark | CQ Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images
The process would bring its own headache. Senate Democrats would have to keep all 50 members of their caucus on board and adhere to strict rules, which can be included in a budget vote law.
The GOP senators who worked out the offer to Biden mentioned that the legislature could divert unused coronavirus aid funds for state and local governments into the infrastructure or introduce usage fees for transports such as electric vehicles. These Republican solutions could get Biden into trouble.
The president has promised not to collect taxes on anyone who earns less than $ 400,000 a year. Usage fees or a gas tax hike would add an extra burden to many Americans whose incomes fall below the threshold.
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Republicans have said they don’t want to levy taxes to cover the cost of improving transportation, broadband, and water systems. Biden has called for the corporate income tax rate to be raised from 21% – the level set by the GOP after the 2017 tax cut – to at least 25%.
“We can do this without … touching these tax cuts,” Capito told CNBC.
Capito said she saw the potential for a bipartisan settlement on transportation spending. She noted that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which she sits as the highest-ranking member, has tabled an approximately $ 300 billion land transportation bill that she believes is a broader infrastructure contract could direct.
In cutting its original $ 2.3 trillion plan, Biden cut funding for research and development as well as supply chain improvements. He also cut proposed spending on broadband, roads, and bridges.
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