Biden, key GOP senator talk infrastructure after joint session
President Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who has taken the lead for Republicans on infrastructure, spoke Thursday, just one day after the president detailed a $4 trillion spending package to a joint session of Congress.
“They had a warm, friendly conversation and continued their dialogue about infrastructure and jobs, reiterating their willingness to negotiate,” the White House said in a readout of the call. “They also discussed having another potential in-person meeting in the near future.”
Capito, who took the lead on a $568 billion GOP infrastructure proposal, described the call as “constructive and substantive.”
“We both expressed our mutual desire to work together and find common ground to address these challenges and deliver results for the American people. I stand ready to be a partner in advancing infrastructure legislation in a bipartisan way — just as we’ve done in the past,” Capito said in a statement.
The phone call comes after Biden unveiled the next piece of a sweeping infrastructure package Wednesday night during his first speech to Congress.
Combined with his $2.3 jobs plan, it totals a package around $4 trillion that would overhaul the nation’s infrastructure, child care and family leave programs.
Congress also passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus package earlier this year, with Republicans and some Democrats raising concerns about the combined price tag.
Capito and her staff have been in touch with the White House on infrastructure, with the West Virginia senator telling reporters Thursday that the talks were currently at a staff level as they try to lock down data.
“I think we’ll probably move to a more negotiating phase that once we get the data down,” she said. “It’s all moving forward, it’s all positive.”
Democrats have said they want bipartisan support for their infrastructure package with one idea floated by centrist Democrats, and endorsed by some Republicans, being that lawmakers would put what can get bipartisan support in its own bill. What can’t, Democrats would pass separately under reconciliation, which allows them to bypass the filibuster.
But there are also divisions on how to pay for an infrastructure package.
Biden has pitched paying for his plan through a combination of increased taxes on the wealthy, corporations and capital gains.
But Capito also called Biden’s talk of a capital gains tax “problematic.”
“It’s going to hit a lot more people … so I have an issue with that,” she said.
Many Democrats are betting they ultimately pass all of Biden’s plan under reconciliation, an option Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says is on the table.
“Of course reconciliation is an option. We hope to do as much as we can in a bipartisan way. … But the No. 1 goal is a big bold plan along the lines of what President Biden has proposed,” Schumer said.
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