Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats seem to be inching closer and closer toward being forced to pass the president’s massive, multitrillion-dollar infrastructure proposal through Congress without any Republican support.
According to The Hill, Biden gave a hard no on Friday to Senate Republicans’ latest offer for a compromise on an infrastructure deal.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president turned down the GOP’s latest offer, outlined to him in a recent call with Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, because he wants to talk further with members of both parties “in hopes of achieving a more substantial package.”
Biden says no
Reports indicate the president spoke with Capito on at least two occasions in person last week, in addition to a phone call.
By the end of the week, Capito had proposed a price tag for the bill that upped Republicans’ previous offer of $928 billion by about $50 billion, Psaki said, as The Hill reported.
But even nearly a trillion dollars wasn’t enough for Biden, whose press secretary told reporters that while Biden “expressed his gratitude for [Capito’s] effort and goodwill,” he felt “the current offer did not meet his objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis, and create new jobs.”
“[Biden] indicated to Senator Capito that he would continue to engage a number of Senators in both parties in the hopes of achieving a more substantial package,” Psaki added in her statement. “They agreed to speak again on Monday.”
The hill to die on?
Biden has clashed with the GOP on two major points of the infrastructure deal. The first: what exactly the bill will encompass.
Republicans are looking for a narrower package focused on more traditional infrastructure proposals, including improvements on roads, bridges, and ports. But Biden wants something bigger and broader, proposing a package that includes everything from funding for wind and solar energy to social welfare spending — all of which could cost well over $2 trillion.
The two sides have also reached a point of contention over how to pay for the bill, which Republicans hope to fund via money left over from measures enacted to provide relief to Americans amid COVID-19. Biden and Democrats aren’t having it, however.
According to The Hill, the president proposed in a meeting with Capito Wednesday “the idea of a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations” to pay for the pricey package — something Republicans aren’t thrilled about.
After weeks of stalled negotiations, some are reportedly starting to wonder if Biden will soon step away from the table and move forward without the GOP, as there continues to be no sign of progress in Washington. The Senate parliamentarian has promised to limit Democrats’ use of budget reconciliation to push measures through the upper chamber, but could this be the hill they’re willing to die on? Only time will tell.