President Joe Biden’s infrastructure “counter offer” to Republicans in Congress slashed funding for roads and bridges while keeping — and even shifting new money toward — liberal wish list items.
Biden released the offer in the wake of his meeting with congressional Republicans at the White House in early May, but Republicans were quick to shut it down.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki framed the offer as an artful compromise to $1.7 trillion from an initial $2.3 trillion proposal; but Republicans say the price tag on the plan only went down thanks to cutting Republican-desired initiatives.
“In our view, this is the art of seeking common ground,” Psaki said Friday.
“This proposal exhibits a willingness to come down in size, giving on some areas that are important to the president … while also staying firm in areas that are most vital to building our infrastructure and industries of the future.” (RELATED: Climate Change, Housing, Schools: Here’s Where Much Of Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Will Be Spent)
Nearly $50 billion of Biden’s spending cuts come from roads, bridges and other major products that fall under the traditional Republican definition of infrastructure. The counter offer calls for spending $120 billion on traditional infrastructure, far below the most recent Republican proposal, which calls for spending $506 billion on those measures.
An updated offer from Republicans on Thursday sat at a total of $928 billion. Biden had urged Republicans to come up with a $1 trillion plan, but the new Republican offer still falls more than $600 billion short from Biden’s.
Both the White House and Republicans have signaled in recent days that they aren’t optimistic about finding common ground in the long run.
“There continue to be vast differences between the White House and Senate Republicans when it comes to the definition of infrastructure, the magnitude of proposed spending, and how to pay for it,” the press office for Republican West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the lead Republican negotiator, told reporters.
“Based on today’s meeting, the groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden.”
Nevertheless, Biden appears to have expressed some interest in the most recent offer from Republicans.
NEWS: @SenCapito said Biden called her today and wants to meet with her again to talk infrastructure.
Capito: “He said that he appreciated the offer and that he wanted our staffs to get together to look at more detail, and that he wanted to meet with us – or me again.”
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) May 27, 2021