The GOP prepares to come up $500 billion on infrastructure after Biden comes down by $600 billion

Roger Wicker Mississippi
Sen. Roger Wicker. Manuel Balce Ceneta, File via AP
  • GOP Sen. Roger Wicker said Republicans will bring Biden a $1 trillion infrastructure counter-offer.
  • This follows the White House’s offer to cut its $2.25 trillion plan down to $1.7 trillion.
  • Some Republicans still think $1 trillion is too high, while the parties are far apart on funding new spending.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In his latest attempt to get Republicans on board with his infrastructure plan, President Joe Biden offered them a $1.7 trillion plan last week, down from his initial $2.25 trillion proposal. GOP lawmakers plan on countering that with a $1 trillion plan on Thursday.

A group of GOP senators, led by Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, met with Biden two weeks ago to discuss their initial $568 billion counter-proposal to Biden’s infrastructure plan. They missed last Tuesday’s deadline to bring the president a new offer, but Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi told reporters on Tuesday that a new offer close to $1 trillion will be brought to the table on Thursday.

“We’re going to hit a figure very close to what the president said he would accept, and it will end up being the most substantial infrastructure bill ever enacted by the federal government,” Wicker told reporters.

Capito’s office said in a statement to Insider last week that Friday’s White House offer was “well above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support” and that Republicans and the White House still differed on what’s considered infrastructure, how much should be spent on it, and where that money should come from.

While Biden has proposed funding the plan through corporate tax hikes, Republicans have strongly opposed doing so, instead suggesting “user-fees,” a set of charges levied on the users of a federal service or good, like raising the federal gas tax.

And last week, Insider reported that Capito floated the idea of taking unused federal unemployment money to fund infrastructure, which comes as 23 GOP-led states have so far announced they are ending unemployment benefits early following the weak April jobs report.

Wicker told reporters on Tuesday that repurposing stimulus funds, and not spending any new money, will be something the GOP will push for. Republicans are also pushing take Biden’s proposed tax hikes on the richest Americans and multinational firms off the table in any deal.

“I do think there’s a path forward here if the president is willing to take it,” Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, the fourth-ranking Senate Republican, told Insider. “As long as we’re not talking about tax hikes, I think that’s really important because Republicans are not going to support any tax hikes.”

Biden has proposed lifting the corporate tax rate to 28% from the 21% level put in place in the 2017 Republican tax law. He’s also seeking to impose higher taxes on investors and raise the marginal income tax rate.

Not all Republicans support the $1 trillion figure, likely complicating a bipartisan plan. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters that it’s “unlikely” he’d support a number that high, which could pose another barrier to reaching a bipartisan agreement.

As these negotiations continue, Democratic lawmakers are increasingly urging Biden to forego these discussions and move ahead with passing the comprehensive package he proposed, with corporate tax hikes, to get urgent aid to Americans.

“We appreciate the White House’s interest in reaching across the aisle to seek Republican support for overwhelmingly popular infrastructure priorities …” House Democrats wrote in a letter. “While bipartisan support is welcome, the pursuit of Republican votes cannot come at the expense of limiting the scope of popular investments.”