U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a two-party meeting on the American employment plan at the White House in Washington, USA on April 19, 2021.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
President Joe Biden held his second infrastructure meeting with Democratic and Republican Congressmen on Monday as GOP lawmakers pushed for downsizing the president’s plan by more than $ 2 trillion.
Biden plans to approve a package in the coming months that will renew US roads, bridges, airports, broadband, homes and utilities and invest in professional training and care for the elderly and disabled Americans. Republicans have signaled they could support a reduced bill based on transportation, broadband and water systems.
The president has said he wants to work out a bipartisan bill, but if the Democrats don’t get a deal with the GOP, they would try to pass laws on their own through budget voting. With parties having different ideas about what constitutes infrastructure and what role the government should play in this process, it is unclear what could be supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
“I’m ready to compromise, ready to see what we can do, what we get into,” Biden told reporters ahead of the meeting on Monday. He said he would speak to lawmakers about what to include in the plan and how to pay for it.
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The group consisted of members of Congress who served as governors or mayors, including Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H.
While Biden has said he wants to compromise with the GOP, the sides are at least $ 1 trillion apart.
Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and John Hoeven (R-ND) listen as President Joe Biden holds a bipartisan meeting on the American employment plan at the White House in Washington, USA on April 19, 2021.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
Last week, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., told CNBC that she viewed a $ 600 billion to $ 800 billion infrastructure plan as a “sweet spot” that could win the support of both parties. She told reporters Thursday that Republicans expect to draft their own infrastructure proposal.
When asked Sunday whether he would support a roughly $ 800 billion infrastructure proposal put forward by some of his colleagues, Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, did not specifically endorse the number, but signaled that he had a plan with transportation and support broadband in the center.
“There is a core infrastructure bill that we could adopt and even achieve broadband with reasonable compensation like roads and bridges. This pandemic has exposed a huge digital divide in the country. … I think we could all agree, but I think that’s the part we can agree on, so let’s do it, “he said on Fox News Sunday.
When Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., Appeared on Fox with Cornyn, he announced the possibility that Democrats, with GOP support, could pass a smaller infrastructure proposal and then approve their other priorities themselves.
Efforts to win Republican support could pose a number of problems for Biden. The GOP wants the president to cut proposed spending on electric vehicles and caring for the elderly and disabled – two priorities for democratic lawmakers.
Republicans also criticized Biden’s plans to offset infrastructure spending. He has called for the corporate tax rate to be increased to 28%. The GOP cut it from 35% in 2017 to 21% and resisted efforts to increase the rate again.
Agreeing on what constitutes infrastructure can lead to discussions. Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi who met with Biden last week, said Thursday he wanted to see a bill based on “30% of the president’s proposal that is actually infrastructure.”
It is unclear to what extent Biden and the Congress Democrats would agree to cancel the GOP-sponsorship plan. Wicker, the senior member of the Senate’s trade committee who has broad jurisdiction over transportation and communications issues, believes the infrastructure bill could be non-partisan.
“I’m optimistic, I’m hopeful, I’m looking on the good side,” he said.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect Senator John Cornyn’s comments on a possible infrastructure bill.
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