White House makes $ 1.7 trillion infrastructure counter-offer to GOP
WASHINGTON – White House aides working on a bipartisan infrastructure deal made a counter-offer to Republican senators on Friday, slashing the Biden administration’s initial proposal by $ 600 billion.
Within hours, those Republicans threw cold water on the new proposal and said the parties now appeared “more distant” after what appeared to be progress in the negotiations.
The latest offer would cost $ 1.7 trillion over a decade, according to a White House memo to Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who is leading negotiations for the GOP.
In order to reduce the original $ 2.3 trillion plan to $ 1.7 trillion, the White House says it would agree to:
- Shift funding for research and development, small business, and supply chain improvements from this package to separate legislation that is being debated in Congress.
- Reduce funding for rural broadband from its initial supply of $ 100 billion to $ 65 billion. This would match the Republicans’ proposal to expand broadband funding.
- Reduce its new funding requests for “roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects” from its original $ 159 billion to $ 120 billion.
The memo said Biden hoped the proposed changes to his original offer “would further stimulate bipartite cooperation and progress.”
But it was immediately evident that little progress had been made over the past week on the core elements of a bill. These include the basic definition of what “infrastructure” is and the mechanisms for paying for it.
Republicans have proposed their own $ 568 billion infrastructure bill, with a focus on physical infrastructure, rural broadband and public transit.
In the Biden counter-offer, these are all areas that would be cut.
A Moore Capito aide responded to the offer in a statement Friday, calling the White House proposal still “well above the range of what Congress can push through with bipartisan support.”
“Based on today’s meeting, the groups appear more separated after two meetings with White House staff than they were after a meeting with President Biden,” she said. .
The White House memo is also striking for what Biden does not compromise on.
For example, the White House has yet to cut the $ 400 billion offered by Biden to fund home and community care for the elderly. Republicans argue that it does not meet the definition of “infrastructure.”
Biden’s offer also holds the line on the funding he offered for electric vehicles, veterans hospitals and workforce training, which Republicans have all questioned.
On the pay side, the White House’s counter-offer still includes one of the GOP’s redline issues: an increase in the corporate tax rate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said any infrastructure plan that includes a corporate tax increase would be opposed by the entire Republican caucus.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Friday’s counter-proposal “the art of finding common ground.”
Biden negotiators presented the counter-offer to Republican senators in a video conference that began shortly after lunch on Friday.
The White House team included Presidential Advisor Steve Ricchetti, Director of Legislative Affairs Louisa Terrell, Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
As the second week of formal negotiations wrapped up on Friday, Republicans and Democrats appeared no closer to a bipartisan compromise than they did at the start.