Senate

Republicans unveil $568 billion infrastructure plan

A group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) on Thursday unveiled a $568 billion infrastructure proposal, a much smaller counteroffer to President Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan.

Republicans sent the offer to Biden shortly before noon Thursday. 

The proposal seeks to define infrastructure more narrowly compared to Biden’s expansive view of the issue, focusing on roads and bridges, public transit systems, rail, wastewater infrastructure, airports and broadband infrastructure.

Senate Republicans are proposing user fees for electric vehicles and repurposing unused federal spending allocated by the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Congress passed in March to cover the cost of the plan.

The total cost of the plan is at the low end of the $600 billion to $800 billion ballpark Capito proposed to reporters last week.

“This is something that Congress has done for many, many years together on a bipartisan basis. Our focus today is to say what our concepts are as Republicans [about] what infrastructure means, what our principles are in terms of pay-fors and to say to President Biden and his team and our Democrat colleagues: ‘We’re ready to sit down and get to work on this,’ ” Capito said. 

While some Democrats such as Sen. Chris Coons (Del.), a close Biden ally, have embraced the idea of passing a bipartisan down payment on Biden’s infrastructure agenda, others have called for Congress to “go big” right out of the gate.

The latest GOP counteroffer mirrors the size of the $618 billion proposal Capito and other moderate Republicans proposed for pandemic relief to the Biden administration earlier.

Democrats flatly rejected that earlier offer as inadequate.

Their plan, which is being billed as a “framework,” would spend $299 billion on roads and bridges, $61 billion on public transit systems, $20 billion on rail, $35 billion on drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, $13 billion on safety programs, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, $17 billion on ports and inland waterways, and $44 billion on airports.

It also proposes spending $65 billion to beef up and expand the nation’s broadband infrastructure to bring high-speed internet to more rural areas of the country.

The GOP spending priorities were laid out in a fact sheet titled “The Republican Roadmap” circulated to reporters before a press conference Thursday.

Capito said she put it together after conversations with Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Republican colleagues met with Biden at the White House to discuss the possibility of an infrastructure compromise.

Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) presented the plan along with Capito.

Wicker called it a “good faith effort” to begin negotiations with Biden and other Democrats.

The $299 billion proposed for roads and bridges would go to the Federal Highway Administration and the office of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

More than $60 billion would go to the Federal Transit Administration and some of the $20 billion for rail would go to Amtrak, which has long been controversial with some Senate conservatives.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maritime Administration would split the $17 billion for ports and inland waterways, and the Federal Aviation Administration would handle the $44 billion for airports.

The GOP plan would explicitly preserve all of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which set the corporate tax rate at 21 percent.

Biden has called for paying for new infrastructure spending by raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent and limiting different business tax breaks. 

Tags Broadband Chris Coons Coronavirus Infrastructure Joe Biden John Barrasso Pat Toomey Pete Buttigieg Roger Wicker Shelley Moore Capito Tom Carper

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