Biden rejects new GOP offer as spending talks drag on
President Biden on Friday rejected the latest GOP offer on infrastructure during a phone call with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), according to the White House, though the two agreed to speak again next week.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Capito raised Republicans’ current offer by $50 billion and that while Biden “expressed his gratitude for her effort and goodwill” he also “indicated that the current offer did not meet his objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis, and create new jobs.”
Psaki said that Biden informed the GOP senator he would engage Republican and Democratic senators “in hopes of achieving a more substantial package.”
Biden and Capito agreed to speak again Monday, according to both the White House and Capito’s office, which also put out a brief readout of the call Friday afternoon.
Biden, who has engaged with Capito and other Republicans for weeks in hopes of a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, is coming under growing pressure from progressives to abandon the discussions and move forward with his $2.25 trillion plan, using budget reconciliation so that Democrats can pass it without GOP votes.
Republicans had previously offered a $928 billion counterproposal that included about $260 billion in new spending. Biden, in an Oval Office meeting with Capito on Wednesday, proposed a plan that includes $1 trillion spending on infrastructure and floated the idea of a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations to pay for it.
Despite inching closer to one another, both sides remain in disagreement on the scope of the proposal and how to pay for it.
It’s unclear how much longer Biden will continue talks with Capito or other Republicans given the lack of progress. Some Democratic sources believe he will look to make a decision on whether to cut a deal or abandon them by mid-June.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had indicated Monday there was a deadline for real progress, though Psaki on Thursday refuted this notion.
Her statement Friday indicates that Biden could look to engage with a second group of bipartisan lawmakers on a potential agreement. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) are said to be among a group of lawmakers who may pitch another infrastructure proposal.
Manchin, who Biden would need on board were he to move forward with reconciliation, indicated in interviews Thursday that he does not currently support Democrats passing infrastructure on their own.
Biden also spoke with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, on Friday after he unveiled a $547 billion surface transportation bill that includes many of the priorities laid out in Biden’s $2.25 trillion jobs plan. Biden expressed support for DeFazio’s plans to mark up the bill next week on Wednesday, Psaki said.
—Updated at 6:26 p.m.