White House Appears Intrigued by GOP Infrastructure Proposal
WASHINGTON – The dance, as they say, was on Thursday as the White House signaled its interest in a new, $928 billion infrastructure proposal outlined by Senate Republicans.
The counteroffer to President Joe Biden’s more sweeping, $1.7 trillion plan, is more generous than the Republicans’ last offer, adding about $91 billion for roads and bridges, $48 billion for water resources, and another $25 billion for airports.
The new offer would also bump up broadband investments by $65 billion and money for rail by an additional $22 billion.
“It’s a serious effort to try to reach a bipartisan agreement,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the lead GOP negotiator.
The White House seemed to agree.
“At first review, we note several constructive additions to the group’s previous proposals, including on roads, bridges and rail,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday.
“At the same time, we remain concerned that their plan still provides no substantial new funds for critical job-creating needs, such as fixing our veterans’ hospitals, building modern rail systems, repairing our transit systems, removing dangerous lead pipes, and powering America’s leadership in a job-creating clean energy economy, among other things,” Psaki added.
“Lastly, we are concerned that the proposal on how to pay for the plan remains unclear: we are worried that major cuts in COVID relief funds could imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals using this money to get back on their feet after the crush of the pandemic,” she said.
At a morning news conference, Sens. Capito, Pat Toomey, R-Pa., John Barrasso, R-Wy. and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said their offer delivers on “core infrastructure investments” that Biden has touted as areas of potential bipartisan agreement.
However, the lawmakers continue to reject the president’s proposed corporate tax increase to pay for new investments, insteading wanting to shift unspent COVID-19 relief dollars to help cover the costs.
Toomey told reporters Thursday that there is $700 billion in unspent COVID-19 aid from the American Rescue Plan — the administration’s $1.9 trillion response to the coronavirus crisis earlier this year.
Toomey suggested some of that money could fill the gap between the amount of revenue normally collected from transportation taxes and fees, and the new spending the GOP senators are proposing.
But he said the Republican negotiators have made it “very, very clear every single time we’ve had a discussion that we’re not raising taxes.”
Talks are now at something of a crossroads before a Memorial Day deadline to make progress toward a bipartisan deal.
Though Biden has said repeatedly that he wants and expects there to be bipartisan agreement on an infrastructure plan, staffers in the West Wing are said to be assessing whether the president can strike some kind of deal with Republicans or whether he will try to go it alone with Democrats if no progress is made in the coming days.
Core differences remain over a number of provisions of the plan, not least of all is the definition of infrastructure.
Republicans stick to traditional investments in roads, bridges, ports and water drinking systems, while the White House takes a more expansive view.
Barrasso said the Republicans’ proposal reflects “what people at home in Wyoming think of is infrastructure – roads with potholes.”
As for the road forward, Psaki said the president called Capito Thursday to thank her for the proposal, and to tell her that he would follow-up after getting additional details.
“We are also continuing to explore other proposals that we hope will emerge,” she said.
“Though there are no votes in Congress next week, we will work actively with members of the House and Senate next week, so that there is a clear direction on how to advance much needed jobs legislation when Congress resumes legislative business during the week of June 7.”
In The News
In The News
The Biden administration is being pressured to decide by the end of the month as to whether to reverse Title 42, known as the Public Health Service Act, used to restrict non-essential travel across the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In March 2020,... Read More
WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden announced Tuesday he would meet with state governors next week to map out a strategy for handling disasters from severe weather. Heat and drought in western states is creating wildfires and crop damage. The National Weather Service is predicting potentially heavy... Read More
A recent survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core finds that faith-based approaches supporting vaccine uptake can influence members of key hesitant groups to get vaccinated. Religious leaders can help overturn hesitancy by battling popular assumptions that groups like QAnon have... Read More
This week marked the official beginning of summer, and in preparation, the World Against Toys Causing Harm, known as W.A.T.C.H., produced a Summer Safety Report for parents and caregivers to navigate summer heat safety for children whose injuries typically double during the summer months. “We want... Read More
Tom Perez, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, announced Wednesday that he is running for governor of Maryland, seeking to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Perez, who served as labor secretary for then-President Barack Obama and also led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights... Read More
WASHINGTON - The New Democrat Coalition on Wednesday endorsed its first slate of bills in the 117th Congress to confront the existential threat of climate change, building on the Coalition’s work to advance an ambitious and actionable policy agenda to attain net-zero emissions by 2050. As... Read More