- GOP lawmakers didn’t make Biden a counter-offer to his infrastructure plan by his Tuesday deadline.
- They said Biden is still digesting their $568 billion plan and they’ll hear from the White House this week.
- Democrats are increasingly calling on Biden to ditch negotiations and move forward without the GOP.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
After a group of Republican senators met with President Joe Biden last week to discuss their $568 billion counter-proposal to the president’s infrastructure plan, he gave them a Tuesday deadline to bring forth a new offer. That never happened.
Republican senators, led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, introduced the $568 billion proposal last month – significantly smaller than Biden’s $4 trillion plan. It included funding mainly dedicated to physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and proposed funding the plan through potential “user-fees,” like a gas or road tax, instead of the corporate tax hikes the president pitched.
The meeting came and went between this group and Biden, Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, and Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo and a new plan wasn’t introduced, with Capito telling reporters after the meeting that there was “progress, but we still got a ways to go.”
“I think they’re [Buttigieg and Raimondo] digesting what we proposed, and I think the plan is for them to react to that,” Capito added.
Capito’s office referred Insider to a readout of the meeting which said Capito felt “encouraged,” and the White House would follow up with the group later this week.
While a new plan wasn’t brought to the table, Capito told reporters there was “back and forth” during the meeting on what it would take to carry out some of the measures in Biden’s plan, and that while they did talk about methods to fund a plan, they didn’t go too in depth on the matter because they first need to decide on what they’re going to fund in the first place.
Democrats want Biden to bypass the GOP
Biden has repeatedly said he would like to reach a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure, and that he is willing to compromise on the scope and size of his plan. But Democratic lawmakers are concerned that the focus on bipartisanship is taking too much time away from passing urgent legislation.
On Monday, 59 House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to bypass negotiations with Republicans and go even bigger on infrastructure investments, suggesting a $7 trillion proposal that Biden campaigned on.
“While bipartisan support is welcome, the pursuit of Republican votes cannot come at the expense of limiting the scope of popular investments,” the Democrats wrote.
Biden and Republicans have expressed interest in striking some sort of bipartisan agreement by Memorial Day, but as Democrats are increasingly urging the president to leave the GOP behind and pass legislation, the only other route is budget reconciliation, which even some Democrats are weary of.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, for example, told Politico that will using reconciliation to bypass Republicans would be “quicker and easier,” he said Democrats “don’t seem to have the votes for it,” likely referring to moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia’s desire to have a bipartisan bill.
While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP’s infrastructure plan could cost up to $800 billion, that would still not be nearly enough for Democrats who want to include care-economy investments, like affordable housing and free community college, and if Democrats want to adhere to Pelosi’s July 4 timeline to bring a bill to the House floor, a bipartisan agreement looks unlikely.