Senate Republicans offer a narrower, lower-cost alternative to the $ 2.3 trillion Joe Biden hopes to spend.
On Thursday a group of Senate Republicans presented a public works proposal with a much lower price and a narrower definition of infrastructure than that proposed by President Joe Biden, highlighting the stark differences between the two sides that will be difficult to fill in the coming months.
The price of the Republican proposal was $ 568 billion over five years, compared to the $ 2.3 trillion Biden has asked to spend in eight years.
To help pay for their plan, Republicans would rely on user tariffs, including for electric vehicles, and redirecting unspent federal dollars. The scheme does not offer details, such as which federal programs would lose unspent dollars to infrastructure. Biden proposed raising corporate income tax from 21 percent to 28 percent to help pay for his plan, a move Republican senators rejected.
“This is the largest infrastructure investment that Republicans have come forward,” Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito told reporters. “This is a robust package.”
Republican lawmakers were quick to criticize Biden’s infrastructure proposal. They say only a fraction of the spending would go to traditional infrastructure. Biden’s plan allocates $ 400 billion to expand Medicaid support for healthcare workers and substantial portions would fund electric vehicle charging stations and address the racial injustice of highways that were built in ways that devastated black neighborhoods.
The Republican plan will devote $ 299 billion to roads and bridges, $ 65 billion to broadband Internet and $ 61 billion to transit. Another important element: 44 billion dollars for airports. Biden’s focus on electric vehicle charging stations and support from healthcare workers is missing from the plan. The senators delivered their draft to the White House about 30 minutes before holding a press conference on it.
“We take the part of the president’s plan that most Americans agree is real, solid infrastructure, give him our touch, and think we have a very good number here,” Republican Senator Roger Wicker said.
The president said early on that he would welcome any good faith effort to find common ground, because the only unacceptable step would be inaction, “White House News Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. Thursday. “We look forward to reviewing the details of the proposal,” he said, adding, “I expect all of you should expect the president to invite members to the White House” soon after giving his first speech at a joint session. next week’s Congress.
Republicans earlier this year also offered a counterproposal to Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan. Their price was about a third of what the president wanted, and he soon declared it inadequate. The Democrats went ahead on their own and passed the relief law without the support of any GOP lawmakers.
Room for compromises?
Biden is spending more time on this round by listening to Republicans and expressing a willingness to consider their ideas, but the end result could be the same. Democrats are keen to push through a major infrastructure upgrade this year and could use the budget reconciliation process to get around GOP opposition.
Capito said he was optimistic that a compromise could be found this time.
“I’ve read this very carefully,” he said. “I feel like the White House and other counterparts on the side of the House want to try to reach a consensus, a law on rigid infrastructure.”