Biden ‘encouraged’ by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure

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President Biden on Wednesday said he was “encouraged” about the prospects of an infrastructure deal after meeting with top congressional leaders, even as he acknowledged the two parties remain at odds on how to finance a package.

Biden told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that he did not get into how to pay for the bill with the top four leaders from Capitol Hill. Instead, they focused on what constitutes infrastructure amid talks on a potential compromise.

Speaking later to reporters, Biden said he “came away encouraged” from his meeting earlier in the day with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“But I want to make it clear to you: I’m encouraged not just because of one solid meeting with the Republican leader in the House and with Sen. McConnell … I’ve been meeting with bipartisan leaders for a long time now,” Biden said.

“So generically I’m encouraged that there’s room to have a compromise on a bipartisan bill that’s solid and significant and a means by which to pay for it without dropping all of the burden on middle class and working class people,” Biden added.

The president noted he’s met with several lawmakers in both parties since unveiling his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan in March, which calls for investments in roads, bridges, broadband, railways, climate-friendly industries and long-term care workers. Biden hosted moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) at the White House earlier this week.

Biden has proposed paying for an infrastructure deal through an increase in the corporate tax rate. Republicans have balked at the idea, instead pushing for user fees, something Biden expressed reluctance toward on Wednesday when he said it would place a burden on middle class Americans.

The issue of how to pay for the eventual package remains one of the biggest roadblocks to getting an infrastructure deal done. Still, Biden has remained optimistic even as the White House says it wants to see progress by Memorial Day.

“I want to make it clear,” Biden told MSNBC. “I want to get a bipartisan deal on as much as we can get a bipartisan deal on. And that means roads, bridges, broadband, all infrastructure.” 

Tags american jobs plan Big Four Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer funding Infrastructure Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kevin McCarthy Kyrsten Sinema Lawrence O'Donnell Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi

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