August 18, 2022

A group of Senate Republicans outlined their infrastructure plan on Thursday, revealing a much narrower vision for modernizing US transportation and broadband than the comprehensive approach endorsed by President Joe Biden.

The GOP package would cost $ 568 billion, just a fraction of the Democratic President’s $ 2 trillion package. It also wouldn’t go into guidelines like caring for the elderly and disabled that Biden included in his plan.

The republican structure would put aside:

  • $ 299 billion for roads and bridges
  • $ 65 billion for broadband
  • $ 61 billion for public transportation
  • $ 44 billion for airports
  • $ 35 billion for drinking water and wastewater systems
  • $ 20 billion for railroads
  • $ 17 billion for ports and inland waterways
  • $ 14 billion for water storage
  • $ 13 billion in security measures

The GOP proposal is supported by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia, Roger Wicker from Mississippi, Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania and John Barrasso from Wyoming. Democrats who have emphasized the need for a sprawling infrastructure package are likely to reject the lower price tag.

Capito called the framework an effort to start a compromise conversation with Democrats. She said that “we agree that these bills are necessary” and she hopes that the Senate jurisdiction committees “should be the ones to force the compromise”.

“I think we see this as an offer that is on the table and deserves an answer,” she said. “And I think there will be an answer.”

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Capito said the investments would be fully funded, possibly through policies such as electric vehicle usage fees and repurposing state and local reliefs passed as part of the coronavirus relief bills. She said the GOP intends to keep the tax cuts passed in 2017, which Biden plans to partially reverse.

The White House has said it hopes to draft an infrastructure bill that Congress Republicans will support. The proposal outlined on Thursday shows a gap between the parties’ priorities and the convenience of federal spending – along with what they even consider infrastructure.

Shelley Capito (R-WV) speaks during a press conference marking the implementation of the Republican Infrastructure Plan at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, United States, on April 22, 2021.

Erin Scott | Reuters

It is unclear which bill could win the 60 votes required to get through the democratically-led Senate, which the party will split 50:50. Democratic leaders have to choose between trying to get a bigger infrastructure bill through on their own – which requires steering the opposition within their own ranks – or agreeing to a smaller plan with the GOP.

Biden spokespersons, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the GOP framework.

Biden has met twice with lawmakers from both parties about infrastructure in the past few weeks. A group of centrist Republican and Democratic senators also met on Wednesday to seek consensus.

Some Democratic lawmakers have suggested that, with the support of the GOP, the party could approve a bill focused on transportation and broadband and then pass its broader priorities through a special budget process that requires a simple majority vote.

Biden’s plan is to modernize roads, bridges, airports, trains, homes, and broadband while investing in electric vehicles, care for elderly and disabled Americans, and vocational training programs. This would offset the cost by raising the corporate tax rate to 28% and trying to curb the offshoring of corporate profits.

Republicans have criticized both the scope and cost of Biden’s plan. They have also resisted efforts to raise taxes on businesses.

Biden’s tax proposal has also sparked backlash within his party. Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V., said he supported raising the corporate rate to 25% instead of 28%. Republicans cut the tax rate from 35% in 2017 to 21%.

Biden intends to pass two separate infrastructure and recovery bills. He plans to unveil the second plank in the coming weeks, which will focus on childcare, paid vacation and tax credits and which could cost more than $ 1 trillion.

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