White House Trims Infrastructure Proposal In $1.7 Trillion Counter Offer to Republicans

May 21, 2021 by Dan McCue
The White House, May 2021). (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – White House officials trying to strike a bipartisan deal on the President Biden’s massive infrastructure plan made a counteroffer on Friday to Republican senators that trimmed the cost of the package by about $600 billion.

The latest offer would cost $1.7 trillion over a decade, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said told reporters at a briefing Friday.

“In our view, this is the art of seeking common ground,” Psaki said “This proposal exhibits a willingness to come down in size, giving on some areas that are important to the president.”

At the same time, she said, the counteroffer shows the administration is standing firm on areas “that are most vital to rebuilding our infrastructure and industries of the future.”

The White House specifically reduced the funding it had allocated in its place for broadband expansion.

It also reduced proposed investments in roads and bridges.

Biden had initially proposed a $2.3 trillion plan that was met with skepticism and resistence from Republicans in the Senate. Earlier this week, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., offered the White House a Republican counter proposal of $568 billion that she said she and her colleagues could support.

In addition to the cuts, the offer made by the White House on Friday reportedly shifts investments in research and development, manufacturing, supply chain improvement, and small business development out of the infrastructure package and attaches them to other ongoing legislative efforts, including the Endless Frontiers Act and the Chips Act.

The latest developments emerged during a video conference call between key Republicans on Capitol Hill and White House negotiators early Friday afternoon. But the initial response to the revised proposal was muted.

Among the first to comment on it was Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who last month had said Biden’s original plan was a “good start, but we must go bigger.”

On Friday, he sounded bitterly disappointed.

“A smaller infrastructure package means fewer jobs, less justice, less climate action, and less investment in America’s future,” Markey said. “Despite President Biden’s efforts to engage with Republicans, they have shown no willingness whatsoever to negotiate in good faith with Democrats to confront the intersecting crises we face. We need to make the investments now to help our country and communities rebuild and recover, as well to ensure that we never return to the status quo that left too many Americans behind and created the worsening climate crisis.

“Now is the time to go big, to go bold, and to go fast. This is not the time for half-measures, half-spending or foot-dragging. Voters across party lines support President Biden’s vision and the American Job and Family Plans. Let’s not waste time trading the necessary scope and scale of this critical infrastructure package for Congressional Republican votes that have yet to and will never materialize,” he said.

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