GOP offers $ 928 billion in infrastructure, funded with COVID help
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WASHINGTON – Republican senators presented a $ 928 billion infrastructure proposal on May 27 that would exploit unused coronavirus aid, a counter-offer to President Joe Biden’s more radical plan as both sides struggle to negotiate a bipartisan compromise and remain very distant on how to pay the massive spending. .
The Republican offer would increase spending by $ 91 billion on roads and bridges, $ 48 billion on water resources and $ 25 billion on airports, according to a one-page summary released by negotiators of the GOP. It would also provide for one-time increases in broadband investment, to $ 65 billion and $ 22 billion in rail.
Republicans have rejected Biden’s proposed corporate tax increase to pay for new investments and instead want to transfer unspent COVID-19 relief dollars to help cover costs.
“This is a serious effort to try to reach a bipartisan agreement,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the GOP’s top negotiator.
Today’s counter-offer is a serious effort to reach a compromise with @potus that achieves our common infrastructure priorities in a financially responsible manner.
We hope this proposal will put us on the path to a deal that addresses the issues facing our nation. pic.twitter.com/BTKtiEtRNc
– Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) May 27, 2021
Republican senators have said their offer responds to “basic infrastructure investments” that Biden has focused on as areas of a potential bipartisan deal. But their comprehensive approach, against an initial offer of $ 568 billion, received a cold response from Democrats and the White House.
With around $ 250 billion in new spending, the GOP’s plan falls short of the more ambitious proposal outlined in the U.S. plan for the president’s jobs. In previous negotiations. Biden reduced his opening bid from $ 2.3 trillion to $ 1.7 trillion.
Biden, in an economic speech later May 27 in Cleveland, planned to present the choice “head-on” to Congress and the country, according to a White House official, and will frame the argument as if Americans want to continue to give business breaks. or invest in the modernization of infrastructure. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss Biden’s remarks prior to the president’s speech and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Investing in infrastructure is a top legislative priority for Biden. Talks are at a crossroads ahead of the Memorial Day deadline to move towards a bipartisan agreement. The White House is assessing whether the president can strike the contours of a deal with the Republicans or whether he will try to go it alone with the Democrats if no progress is made in the coming days.
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Fundamental differences remain on the definition of infrastructure: Republicans stick to traditional investments in roads, bridges, ports, and water systems, while Biden takes a broader view.
According to Biden’s original proposal, there is over $ 300 billion for substantial improvements to public schools, Veterans Administration hospitals, and affordable housing, as well as $ 25 billion for new and renovated child care centers. .
Biden’s proposal would spend a lot on efforts to tackle climate change, with $ 174 billion to boost the electric vehicle market, in part by developing charging stations, and $ 50 billion to help communities cope better. floods, hurricanes, forest fires and other natural disasters.
One area of agreement relates to improving broadband, but the parties are separate on the details. Republicans increased their initial offer to $ 65 billion in an earlier trade; Biden is looking for $ 100 billion.
Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Said the Republicans’ proposal reflected “what the people of Wyoming are thinking about is infrastructure, roads with potholes.”
The White House, still expressing public hopes for bipartisanship, welcomed the GOP’s offer. But it was greeted with some initial freshness inside the West Wing.
Helpers have reported for days that the use of the COVID-19 relief money is a non-beginner, noting that much of that money has been allocated and suggesting that the rest should be kept in reserve for them. future virus costs.
There was also skepticism about how Republicans claimed Biden signaled a deal on a $ 1.2 trillion deal at a recent meeting – a claim disputed by the White House.
At $ 928 billion over eight years, the GOP’s new offer includes $ 257 billion in new money, more than the $ 225 billion the White House declared in the original Republican proposal. But still much less than the White House had hoped for.
Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Said there was $ 700 billion in unspent COVID-19 assistance from the American Rescue Plan, which was the response to the $ 1.9 trillion administration to the coronavirus crisis earlier this year.
Toomey said some of that money could close the gap between the amount of revenue normally collected from taxes and transportation costs, and the new spending proposed by GOP senators.
But he said the Republican negotiators said it “very, very clearly every time we’ve had a discussion, it’s that we’re not raising taxes.”
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