Senate republicans are placing negotiations back on the table over Biden’s infrastructure plan, preparing a $1 trillion counter proposal to be funded with COVID-19 relief money.
The lawmakers said Tuesday they would disclose details by Thursday.
“We expect this week to be a week of progress,” Jen Psaki said, but declined to address anything else about the new plan.
Indeed, talks about the infrastructure plan remain at a standstill, though remain a top priority for Biden. The White House is assessing whether the president will be able to strike a bipartisan deal with republicans, or whether he will try to proceed alone with his democratic counterparts.
Biden dropped his original $2.3 trillion bid to $1.7 trillion, and republicans had boosted their initial $568 billion offer up by $50 billion late last week.
To no surprise, republicans rejected Biden’s plan to pay for the investments by raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. Instead, they want to use unspent COVID-19 relief funds. They also want to use the gas taxes, tolls and other fees drivers are required to pay for highways and other infrastructure, AP News reports.
“We are anxious to have a bipartisan agreement,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who is leading the group of GOP negotiators.
Senate republican leader Mitch McConnell hailed the idea of repurposing the COVID-19 funds “good advice” from Larry Summers, a Harvard professor and Clinton-era treasury secretary.
Republicans say that while both publicly and privately Biden appears willing to negotiate, his staff often appears to flip-flop. They cite a similar situation during the coronavirus aid talks when Biden seemed to agree with some GOP lawmakers, only to have staff behind him shaking their heads.
Adding to the hesitation, a bipartisan group – which includes Sen. Mitt Romney – is working on other proposals as “a backup.”
One thing is for certain, time is running out as the Memorial Day deadline rounds the corner.