- $928 billion proposal focused on traditional infrastructure…
- Excludes Biden’s “human infrastructure” items…
- Would be paid for using leftover COVID aid…
Senate Republicans unveiled their latest counteroffer on infrastructure following a series of meetings with top Democrats and the White House.
GOP Senators, led by West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, introduced their $928 billion plan this morning.
In a press conference, Capito said, “It sticks to the core infrastructure features that we talked to initially. It is a serious effort to reach a bipartisan agreement.”
They say the plan would be funded by unused Coronavirus aid instead of hiking taxes.
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What’s In the Plan?
Senator Capito has been the lead Republican negotiator with the White House as they work to find a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure.
She said this plan is close to what Biden said they would be open to accepting in their last meeting at the White House.
“We believe this counteroffer delivers on what President Biden told us in the Oval Office that day and that is to try to reach somewhere near $1 trillion over an eight-year period of time that would include our baseline spending. We have achieved that goal with this counteroffer.”
The $928 billion in spending is broken down into 10 categories:
- $506 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects
- $98 billion for public transit systems
- $46 billion for passenger and freight rail
- $21 billion for safety
- $22 billion for ports and waterways
- $56 billion for airports
- $22 billion for western water storage
- $72 billion for water infrastructure
- $65 billion for broadband infrastructure
- $20 billion for infrastructure financing
This offer comes after the Biden Administration countered the GOP’s first $568 billion plan.
Last week, the White House released a revised proposal that lowered the price tag to $1.7 trillion from the previous $2.3 trillion.
President Biden cut the price of that proposal down by lowering spending on highways and broadband.
But Republicans said that offer was still well above what they would be willing to vote for.
The White House has not yet commented on the latest GOP offer but Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren says it’s not a “serious counteroffer”.
In an interview with MSNBC, Warren took specific issue with how Republicans plan to pay for their plan.
Warren said, “They have this illusory notion of how we’re going to take money that’s already been committed to other places and other spending.”
How Do Republicans Plan to Pay For Their Plan?
Democrats and Republicans seem even further apart on how to fund an infrastructure bill than they are on what the bill should include.
GOP lawmakers have stood firmly against any plan to raise taxes or alter any part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Republican Senators say the infrastructure plan unveiled today would be paid for by money already allocated by Congress as part of Coronavirus aid.
They allege billions of dollars passed under the five stimulus bills amid the pandemic is sitting around unused and should be reallocated for infrastructure.
In today’s presser, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt said, “There’s a lot of COVID specific money in the other five bills that we just didn’t need to spend for what we thought we’d need to spend it for. We spent a year guessing… Many of the columns on how much we’d need for this and how much we’d need for that just simply didn’t get used up.”
Capito also highlighted the growing number of states pulling out of the federal supplemental unemployment program early.
She said, “I think 23 states have said they are not going to take enhanced unemployment. Certainly those dollars aren’t going to be spent. We know that.”
But the White House and congressional Democrats want to pay for an infrastructure bill by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.
President Biden’s proposal would raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, and the top capital gains tax rate to 39.6%
What Is Left Out of the GOP Proposal?
The plan unveiled by Republicans today is the largest infrastructure spending package laid out by conservatives to date but is still $700 billion shy of the latest counteroffer from the White House.
The GOP remains focused on what they call core infrastructure while Democrats look to include so-called “human infrastructure” in the final bill.
In a letter to the White House the lawmakers said, “As a group, we were explicit that policies unrelated to physical infrastructure do not fit in this package. This is not because we do not value these important issues. We simply believe that these policies should be addressed in separate legislation that does not dilute our shared objective of passing this package. We can address these important issues separately without weakening our commitment to building America’s infrastructure.”
Reuters reports the latest proposal from Biden includes spending to “address climate change and social issues such as elder care, in addition to revitalizing traditional transportation infrastructure.”
But Republicans have said those nontraditional infrastructure items are a nonstarter for bipartisan passage of a bill.
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