Clyburn Says Clock Is Ticking on Bipartisan Infrastructure Talks
(Bloomberg) -- The No. 3 House Democrat said Thursday that time may be running out to reach a bipartisan deal on a national infrastructure plan, suggesting that President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats should be preparing to act on their own.
“We are still negotiating,” Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, said during an appearance on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” program. But, he added, “I don’t think we should run the risk of not getting something done because the other side is not cooperating.”
Biden met on Wednesday with the main GOP negotiator, West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito and is scheduled to talk with her again on Friday. He has emphasized his preference for a deal with Republicans on the sweeping jobs plan, but his talks with Capito so far haven’t provided a breakthrough.
Biden has pitched to Republicans the idea of a 15% minimum tax on U.S. corporations, along with strengthened IRS enforcement efforts, as a way to fund a bipartisan infrastructure package without without increasing tax rates or rolling back former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts. The GOP has said the 2017 tax cuts are a red line, though White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden hasn’t given up on the idea of raising the corporate tax rate.
Clyburn said that Republicans seem to be “shall we say, reticent” to reach any deal. He wouldn’t say if he believed Biden and Democrats were wasting time, but said they may be “running out of time” with an approach at bipartisanship.
Separately, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday at a news conference in Kentucky that Republicans are “still hoping to reach a bipartisan agreement with the administration.”
He said he spoke to Capito before and after her meeting with Biden Wednesday and that he still hopes for a deal on a significant and “fully paid for” infrastructure package that could be as large as $1 trillion.
“If we can’t reach a bipartisan agreement, I would expect the administration and the congressional Democrats to try to push through a very large package, but that will be extremely controversial because of the taxes they want to make a part of it,” McConnell said.
Under Senate rules, at least 10 Republicans would have to agree to move forward with key parts of an infrastructure spending package. Democrats may be able to pass other portions of Biden’s plan using a process known as budget reconciliation.
Clyburn declined to set a firm deadline for a deal, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested she wants the House to advance an infrastructure package by the beginning of July.
“I hate to put dates on things,” he said. However he said that Congress is set to begin a monthlong break at the end of the July that he suspects Biden would like to have something on his desk by then.
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