Biden says compromise ‘inevitable’ on infrastructure plan
President Biden said Wednesday that compromise on his infrastructure and jobs proposal is “inevitable” but insisted that inaction was not an option.
“Compromise is inevitable, changes are certain,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “We’ll be open to good ideas and good faith negotiations. But here’s what we won’t be open to. We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction simply is not an option.”
The White House says that Biden plans to meet with Republicans and Democrats after they return to Washington next week on how to move forward. Biden specifically said Tuesday he is open to negotiation on how to pay for the package, after Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expressed opposition to his proposal for a hike in the corporate tax rate to 28 percent.
“I’m wide open,” Biden said when asked by a reporter about the corporate tax hike, indicating his openness to negotiation. “But we’ve got to pay for it.”
Still, he maintained that he would not raise taxes on people making under $400,000 a year.
Biden’s proposal has been met with a swell of opposition from Republicans, who argue that the plan is too expensive and includes too many provisions that are not infrastructure.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested over the weekend that Biden cut the package down to about $615 billion in order to get it passed, arguing that only 30 percent of the proposal covers infrastructure investments.
Republicans have also vehemently opposed the proposed corporate tax hike, saying it would push businesses out of the U.S. and hurt American companies.
On Monday, Manchin created further hurdles for Biden when he said he believes the 28 percent corporate tax rate to be too high and would like to see a smaller increase. The White House would need Manchin’s support for the proposal in order to pass the infrastructure bill without Republican support in the 50-50 Senate using budget reconciliation.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a Biden ally on Capitol Hill, suggested during an interview with Punchbowl News Tuesday that there could be an opportunity for Congress to pass a smaller bipartisan package, valued in the billions of dollars. He also suggested there were other alternatives to pay for an infrastructure package, including not fully paying for it.
“I believe President Biden is open to spending the next month negotiating what that possibility is,” Coons said. “There is also, though, a real sense of urgency.”
In advocating for his $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, Biden on Tuesday made the case for an expansive definition of infrastructure. He said infrastructure encompasses traditional forms like roads and bridges, but also the electric grid, high-speed broadband, clean water and veterans hospitals.
“Above all infrastructure is about meeting the needs of a nation and putting Americans to work and being able to do and get paid for having good jobs,” Biden said.
Biden argued that his plan would create good-paying middle-class jobs and help the United States compete on the global stage, while arguing that other nations like China would outpace the U.S. in their investments if nothing is done to invest in infrastructure improvements domestically.
“This is a blue collar blueprint for increasing opportunity for the American people,” Biden said.
The White House, which says it wants to pass a bill by summer, has made clear bipartisan support in Congress for the package is preferred but not necessary. Biden made an appeal Wednesday to Republicans, who have in the past expressed a desire to pass infrastructure legislation, to work across the aisle.
“Whatever partisan divisions there are around other issues, there shouldn’t be around this one,” Biden said.
-Updated 3:50 p.m.