Biden Meeting with GOP’s Capito Yields No Infrastructure Deal
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden met Wednesday with the Senate’s main Republican negotiator on infrastructure, and although the talks didn’t yield a breakthrough for a bipartisan compromise, they agreed to speak again on Friday.
The Oval Office session between the president and Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, which the White House called “a constructive and frank conversation,” lasted more than an hour.
“Senator Capito is encouraged that negotiations have continued. She will be briefing the other members of her negotiating team and reconnecting with the president on Friday” her office said in a statement.
The encounter took place as liberal Democrats have been pushing Biden to break off trying to get a deal with the GOP and to pursue his agenda with legislation that can pass the Senate with just Democratic votes using the budget reconciliation process.
Yet it’s not clear that Biden has the votes to do that yet, given the 50-50 partisan divide in the Senate. A small group of Democratic moderates is urging the president to keep pursuing negotiations.
Capito unveiled a new GOP counteroffer to Biden last Thursday that on its face totals $928 billion in spending over eight years, but only $257 billion of that was new net spending above regularly anticipated maintenance spending Congress was expected to approve anyway. That offer came after Biden lowered his initial demand of a $2.3 trillion bill to $1.7 trillion.
Both sides have differed on how to define “infrastructure,” with Republicans seeking to limit the bill to physical projects such as roads, transit, water systems and broadband. The White House wants to include “care” infrastructure such as spending on hospitals and elder assistance.
The GOP has also made clear that it will not back raising taxes by reversing former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts on the wealthy and corporations, which Biden has proposed. Instead, the GOP has backed using unspent coronavirus relief funds including on child tax credits and state and local aid to pay for the new infrastructure and expressed openness to fees on electric vehicles or an public-private partnerships.
The last offer from Biden continued to tout raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
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