- Biden met with McCarthy, Pelosi, Schumer, and McConnell to discuss a bipartisan infrastructure plan.
- After the meeting, Pelosi told reporters a bill will “absolutely” be ready by July 4.
- Republicans are not so optimistic and are unwilling to compromise on tax hikes to fund the plan.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
President Joe Biden remains committed to his goal of getting bipartisan support for his $4 trillion infrastructure proposal, and on Wednesday, those efforts continued in a meeting with Congress’ four most powerful leaders.
The “Big Four” leaders in Congress – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – joined the president in the Oval Office to discuss a potential compromise on Biden’s infrastructure plan. Upon conclusion of the 90-minute meeting, Pelosi said in a press conference that she could “absolutely” see a bill being brought to the floor by July 4.
“The president has his vision,” she said. “The Congress will work its will. In any event, I felt optimistic about our ability to pass such a bill, and more optimistic now about being able to do so in a bipartisan way.”
Schumer also told reporters after the meeting that the group of four would “explore the places where we could agree and come to a bipartisan agreement on.”
The July 4 timeline is not new for Pelosi. She told House Democrats on a caucus call last month that she wanted to approve a bill by July 4 and aimed to have an infrastructure package formally assembled by the end of May. However, some Democrats have eyed September as a possible deadline for action, given the need for Congress to renew a highway funding bill by then.
Republican lawmakers, though, have not been so optimistic. They have largely opposed Biden’s proposal to fund infrastructure with corporate tax hikes, and McConnell told reporters after the meeting that doing so would be a “red line.”
McCarthy added that there’s an opportunity to work together on infrastructure, but tax increases are out of the question.
“Now, let me preface that we’re not interested – as long as it’s not anything about tax increases, and in dealing with infrastructure that we start with the concept of what is the definition [of infrastructure],” McCarthy told reporters.
Republicans introduced a $568 billion counter-proposal to Biden’s plan last month, to be funded without any tax hikes. McConnell recently said the GOP could support this plan with up to $800 billion in funding, and Biden is set to meet with some of the Republicans who constructed the plan, led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, on Thursday.
If Democrats cannot get Republicans on board with their plan, they will likely go the route of budget reconciliation, which they used to passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill without any Republican votes, but Biden so far remains committed to working with Republicans on his infrastructure plan.
“We’re going to see whether we can reach some consensus on a compromise on moving forward,” Biden told reporters before the meeting. “And we’re going to talk a lot about infrastructure today to see if there’s any way we can reach a compromise that gets the people’s work done and is within the bounds of everyone agreeing. And that’s the purpose of this meeting.”