- The White House presented a $1.7 trillion infrastructure counteroffer to Republicans.
- It slashes the $2.25 trillion price tag substantially and reduces funding for roads and bridges.
- The counteroffer came after a GOP group did not meet a Tuesday deadline to bring a new offer.
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President Joe Biden has offered to cut down the cost of his infrastructure plan – the American Jobs Plan – from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion, presenting a counteroffer to Republicans on Friday.
The offer did not address the $1.7 trillion American Families Plan, which is largely focused on care-economy measures, so the initial $4.1 trillion combination of packages would now come to about $3.2 trillion.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that officials including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo offered up the reduced package.
“In our view, this is the art of seeking common ground,” Psaki said.
Psaki said that proposed funding for broadband was reduced to match that of Republicans, and proposed funding for roads, bridges, and major projects was also reduced to be more in line with senators’ proposals. Investments in research and development, supply chains, manufacturing, and small businesses will be shifted into different legislative pushes.
But the White House said it would continue to push for funding for critical transportation infrastructure, especially railways.
Psaki also said the White House planned to reiterate the president’s unwillingness to raise taxes on Americans making under $400,000, such as through a gas tax and user fees.
“He believes that the extraordinarily wealthy, that companies – many of whom have not paid taxes in recent years – can afford a modest increase to pay for middle-class jobs,” Psaki said.
Republicans had previously offered a $568 billion counteroffer to the White House, well below the $2.25 trillion originally proposed and still substantially lower than the new counteroffer. It would preserve Trump-era tax cuts, which are directly countered in Biden’s proposed funding.
Instead, the group met with Buttigieg and Raimondo, and a new plan wasn’t introduced, with the senator from West Virginia who led the Republican plan, Shelley Moore Capito, telling reporters after the meeting that there was “progress, but we still got a ways to go.”
“I think they’re digesting what we proposed, and I think the plan is for them to react to that,” Capito added.
Capito’s office said in a statement to Insider 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.
“Based on today’s meeting, the groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden,” Capito’s office said. “Senate Republicans will further review the details in today’s counteroffer and continue to engage in conversations with the administration.”
Separately this week, Capito also floated using unused unemployment benefits to fund infrastructure after April’s weak jobs report, which caused a growing number of GOP-led states to end Biden’s weekly $300 unemployment benefits early.
The White House’s counteroffer comes as Democrats are increasingly calling on Biden to ditch negotiations with Republicans and act big on infrastructure legislation.
Psaki said the negotiations were an art of a “different kind of a deal – a deal for the working people.”