Schumer: White House-GOP infrastructure talks ‘seem to be running into a brick wall’

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) “seem to be running into a brick wall” after weeks of back-and-forth proposals. 

Schumer said he thinks talks between another group of Senate Republican and Democratic moderates, which may result in a bipartisan proposal by week’s end, are more promising. 

The Democratic leader also said he’s getting ready to move a reconciliation package on a parallel track to bypass a Republican filibuster in case bipartisan negotiations fail to produce a deal or in case any deal advances only a portion of President Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure agenda.

“We’re pursuing a two-path proposal. On the one hand there are bipartisan negotiations, and those are continuing. The first were between President Biden and Sen. Capito, with just Republicans. Those seem to be running into a brick wall,” Schumer said. 

“But a bipartisan group led by Sens. [Kyrsten] Sinema [D-Ariz.], and I think Sen. [Rob] Portman [Ohio] is the lead Republican, are trying to put something together that might be closer to what the president needs,” he added.

“That’s good, but that’s not going to be the only answer. We all know as a caucus we will not be able to do all the things that the country needs in a bipartisan way. And so at the same time we are pursuing the pursuit of reconciliation, and that is going on at the same time,” he said. 

Schumer suggested that part of Biden’s infrastructure package could move in a bipartisan deal that gets 60 votes while the rest moves through reconciliation. 

“It may well be that part of the bill that will pass will be bipartisan and part of it will be through reconciliation, but we’re not going to sacrifice the bigness and boldness in this bill. We’ll just pursue two paths, and at some point they will join,” he added.

Schumer made his statement Tuesday afternoon when Capito and Biden were scheduled to have another phone conversation.

A phone call between the president and the GOP senator on Friday failed to yield much progress.

Capito told Biden on Friday that Republicans would increase their latest $928 billion infrastructure investment offer by $50 billion, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it still falls short of what Biden wants.

“The President expressed his gratitude for her effort and goodwill, but 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 in a statement after the meeting.

Momentum is now shifting to the talks between Sinema, Portman and other Senate moderates, including Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who are aiming to release a proposal by the end of the week. 

“There’s going to be some conversations today,” Tester said. “I think there’s a possibility we can get this thing done in a bipartisan way. 

“I think people are all saying the same thing. We’re just saying it at different times,” he added.

Asked when the bipartisan group will propose a top-line spending number, Tester said, “I hope it’s by the end of this week.”

The group was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon. 

Tags Chuck Schumer Infrastructure Jen Psaki Joe Biden Jon Tester Lisa Murkowski Shelley Moore Capito

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