Senate GOP to make infrastructure counteroffer Thursday

Senate Republicans will give the White House a counteroffer to its latest $1.7 billion infrastructure proposal on Thursday.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who has been leading the talks for Republicans, told reporters after a closed-door meeting with a group of GOP senators that they would send over the proposal on Thursday morning. 

“I think the American people are behind us here on this in terms of core infrastructure,” Capito said, adding that Republicans were “disappointed” that President Biden’s latest proposal included “human” infrastructure.

Capito declined to say what the top line for the offer would be. But Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a member of the group, appeared to signal that it would be around $1 trillion.

Wicker previously floated on Monday that Republicans could go as high as $1 trillion. And he told reporters on Tuesday that Biden indicated that he could also agree to that top-line. 

“He indicated that that would be a figure that he could agree to,” Wicker said, referring to the last meeting between the GOP group and Biden.  

Asked if that would be the latest top line for Republicans, Wicker appeared to signal it would be, quipping to reporters that he would give them “three guesses.”

The decision to put forward another counteroffer comes as the infrastructure talks appear to be on life support amid deep divisions about the scope of a potential bipartisan deal and how to pay for it.

Senate Democrats aren’t yet ready to pull the plug on the bipartisan talks. But with Biden’s self-imposed Memorial Day deadline looming, they think the administration is quickly approaching that point.

“We’re getting down to decision time. We can’t put this over indefinitely, so I hope they can reach an agreement. They’re still pretty far apart,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters on Monday.  

Part of the problem for Democrats, if they decide to walk away from the bipartisan talks, is that they don’t yet have the 50 votes they need in their caucus to pass a bill through reconciliation, the budget process that lets them avoid a 60-vote legislative filibuster.  

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told reporters on Tuesday that he’s not yet on board with using the procedure.  

“We don’t have to. … If the place works, let it work,” he said. 

Tags counteroffer Dick Durbin GOP Infrastructure Joe Biden Joe Manchin Roger Wicker Senate Shelley Moore Capito White House

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