GOP Aims to Present Infrastructure Counter-Proposal This Week

A group of Senate Republicans is aiming to present a broad counteroffer to President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan later this week.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, told reporters Tuesday she anticipates GOP lawmakers will provide their own infrastructure proposal “in the next several days.” It won’t be detailed, but it will have a top-line number and include projects and how to pay for them, said Capito, who floated a $600 billion to $800 billion figure last week, far below Biden’s plan.

“You will be able to see a contrast,” Capito said.

The comments indicate that there’s still a chance Democrats and Republicans may reach agreement on some areas of physical infrastructure spending, though they remain far apart on other proposals related to social spending and on raising taxes to fund it all.

Capito said she’s hoping that both sides can agree on a highway bill and move that through the Environment and Public Works Committee, where she serves as the ranking Republican. Capito also chairs the rural broadband caucus and said there’s “total bipartisan support” for including that in an infrastructure package.

GOP Senator Rob Portman of Ohio also told reporters Republicans want to keep the package to traditional infrastructure, plus items like broadband.

“When you look at the Biden administration plan, even if he used the most generous definition including broadband and water infrastructure and so on, transit and so on, it’s probably 20% of the plan,” he said. “So we’re trying to narrow it down to infrastructure. And then of course, we’re looking at ways to pay for it.”

Capito has called rolling back the 2017 corporate tax cut a “red line,” however, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he didn’t think any Republicans wanted to undo that law. Biden has proposed increasing the tax on corporations to 28% from the 21% rate set in the GOP tax cut law.

Some Republicans, including Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who was among a bipartisan group of lawmakers who met with Biden on Monday, are advocating raising user fees to pay for infrastructure projects, such as highways, rail lines, ports and airports.

Democratic Senator Chris Coons has pitched doing a bipartisan package of as much as $1 trillion followed by a larger, budget reconciliation plan with other Biden priorities, which would only need a simple majority.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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