Republican senators outlined a $928 billion infrastructure proposal on May 27, in an effort to counter President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion plan.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who has been involved in months of negotiations with the White House, told reporters at a press briefing that she thinks the counteroffer is a good bipartisan compromise. The new GOP offer includes some of Biden’s demands, while staying focused on core physical infrastructure.
“We believe that this counteroffer delivers on what President Biden told us in the Oval Office that day, and that is, to try to reach somewhere near a trillion dollars over an eight-year period of time,” she said.
The Republicans are proposing $506 billion for roads, bridges, and major infrastructure projects, including $4 billion for electric vehicles; $98 billion for public transit; $72 billion for water systems; $65 billion for broadband; $56 billion for airports; $46 billion for passenger and freight rail systems; $22 billion for ports and waterways; $22 billion for water storage; $21 billion for safety efforts; and $20 billion for infrastructure financing, according to the bill’s factsheet.
Republicans have rejected Biden’s planned corporate tax increase to pay for the infrastructure package. Instead, they want to use unspent pandemic relief funds to help cover the cost of their legislation.
“It’s a serious effort to try to reach a bipartisan agreement,” said Capito, the lead Republican negotiator.
The White House responded to the GOP infrastructure proposal Thursday, thanking Sen. Capito for her hard work, and said that though more infrastructure needs were being addressed with the near $1 trillion proposal, the Biden administration still has concerns.
“We remain concerned that their plan still provides no substantial new funds for critical job-creating needs, such as fixing our veterans’ hospitals, building modern rail systems, repairing our transit systems, removing dangerous lead pipes, and powering America’s leadership in a job-creating clean energy economy, among other things,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in a press statement.
“As for the path forward, the President called Senator Capito to thank her for the proposal, and to tell her that he would follow up after getting additional detail. We are also continuing to explore other proposals that we hope will emerge,” added Psaki.
The Republican senators said they think while Biden has shown a willingness to work with the GOP, they aren’t as confident about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“On the other hand, you have the Democrats demanding for $6 trillion and now $7 trillion in spending for a whole lot of different things, so they may override the President on this, overrule him, and that’s what my concerns are with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “And what is basically socialism camouflaged as infrastructure, which is the direction that they’re heading with massive tax increases which are going to hurt the economy, massive spending.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said the new offer by Republicans is a solid infrastructure bill that he hopes can be agreed upon.
“This is a good faith proposal that avoids hiking taxes on job creators and small businesses. The President indicated he would accept a funding target of at least $1 trillion, and we hope he will accept this offer so we can provide critical upgrades to our nation’s infrastructure,” Wicker said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told MSNBC on May 27 that the Republican proposal isn’t “a serious counteroffer.”
“First of all, they don’t have pay-for for this, it’s not real,” she said. “They have this illusory notion of how we’re going to take money that’s already been committed to other places and another spending.”
The Massachusetts Democrat added that she also wants to see the Republican senators address green infrastructure, with more emphasis on electric vehicles and investments in child care.
The GOP package doesn’t include the Biden administration’s priorities such as $400 billion to expand home care services and child care services, or $328 billion to upgrade schools, child care facilities, and hospitals.
Capito said the alternative to the GOP’s bipartisan infrastructure package would be that the Democrats pass another partisan bill.
“And we’re hoping that this moves the ball forward. We believe that the alternative, which is a partisan reconciliation process, would be destructive to our future bipartisan attempts but also doesn’t serve the American public,” she said.
White House officials didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment on the Republicans’ counteroffer.