Senate Republicans Release $928 Billion Infrastructure Counteroffer
A group of Senate Republicans has unveiled a $928 billion infrastructure proposal to counter President Biden's plan for a nearly $2 trillion bill.
The proposal outlines a significant increase from the most recent GOP plan to spend $568 billion. The new version includes additional money for roads, bridges, water, rail and airports but the majority of the proposed spending is part of an existing baseline plan for investments. The total new money is just $257 billion.
The shift comes days after Biden offered to lop off $550 billion from his original proposal, moving the two sides closer than they have ever been, though significant challenges remain.
The single largest spending item is $506 billion for roads, bridges and major projects — a $91 billion increase. Other increases include $48 billion for water infrastructure, $25 billion for airports, $65 billion for broadband $22 billion for freight and passenger rail.
Republicans plan to pay for the vast majority of the spending by repurposing funds Congress has already approved for other projects. They are primarily targeting unspent money meant for COVID-19 relief.
Republicans framed the new offer as as evidence that a bipartisan deal is possible.
"This counteroffer delivers on much of what President Biden provided in his feedback to us during our Oval Office meeting while still focusing on core infrastructure investments," the Republicans said in a release.
Capito and a small group of Senate Republicans have been meeting with Biden, White House staff and a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in the hopes of writing a bill that can please at least 60 senators, enough to clear a filibuster.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol that the proposal would meet White House standards while also appealing to at least some Republicans.
"We will have reached a number that President Biden has said was acceptable," Wicker said. "I think there's a great deal of support for it. Clearly we wouldn't have unanimous support."
Biden has recently called for $1.7 trillion in spending in a package that broadly redefines the definition of infrastructure as well as expanding federal spending priorities and the role of the federal government in the everyday lives of Americans.
Republicans have sought to narrow the discussion to policies that involve traditional physical infrastructure — like roads, bridges, ports and highways — and some digital components like broadband access.
Biden's plan expands the term infrastructure to cover virtually every aspect of a worker's relationship to the economy. His plan includes measures to combat climate change and promote green energy, funding for child care and early childhood education, union-friendly measures and worker protections.
The discussions thus far have focused mostly on Biden's American Jobs Plan and not the additional spending called for in the American Families Plan, which was originally presented by the White House as a legislative companion.
Democrats say they are convinced that there is broad support for expanding federal funding for the programs Biden has outlined, particularly as workers and families continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The largest sticking point may be paying for all of the spending. Democrats want to increase taxes on corporations and high income earners--a plan that Republicans have flatly rejected.
Biden and his allies have also firmly supported plans to pay for the spending by increasing the corporate tax rate to 28%, increasing the top federal income tax rate to 39.6% for those those earning over $400,000, and expanding the capital gains tax.
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