United States President Joe Biden gestures at Senator Shelley Capito (R-WV) during an infrastructure meeting with Republican Senators at the White House in Washington May 13, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Joe Biden and Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito ended a meeting on a possible infrastructure compromise Wednesday and agreed to speak again in two days.
The president and senior GOP negotiator had a “constructive and frank conversation” about a massive proposal to invest in US infrastructure, a White House official said. Biden and the West Virginia senator started the day with differing views on what should go into a bill and how the government should pay for the plan.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Capito “emphasized their desire to work together to reach an infrastructure deal that can pass bipartisan to Congress,” said Capito spokeswoman Kelley Moore. The senator was “encouraged that negotiations continued” and will brief other Republicans before the next discussion with Biden, she added.
Friday’s discussion could be a last-ditch effort to get any closer to an infrastructure deal before the Democrats decide whether to try to pass laws themselves. The Biden administration has signaled that it wants to see progress in talks with Republicans by next week.
“There is a time limit for that … You won’t be playing this back and forth for much longer,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday morning.
“There is definitely a deal,” she said.
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Talks continue a back-and-forth between the White House and the GOP as the parties seek a way forward on a plan to transform US transport, broadband, and utilities. Republicans did not support Biden’s proposals to invest in schools, homes, care facilities and green energy under a bill because they should focus on the infrastructure defined in the past.
The GOP sent Biden a counteroffer for $ 928 billion last week. The president had previously cut his proposal from $ 2.3 trillion to $ 1.7 trillion.
The parties must also resolve a dispute about how the expenses should be offset. Biden plans to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to at least 25 percent, which was set under the 2017 Republican Tax Act. It also aims to reduce underpayments from both individuals and businesses.
Republicans have announced that they will not reconsider their tax legislation. Instead, they called for the coronavirus aid money approved earlier this year to be reused. The White House has signaled its opposition to the diversion of funds and has questioned how much of the aid will be left.
If they can’t reach an agreement with the Republicans, the Democrats can try to pass an infrastructure bill themselves by balancing the budget. It would require the support of every member of the Democratic Senate faction in an evenly divided chamber.
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