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Divisions remain on infrastructure as clock ticks on bipartisan deal

Divisions remain on infrastructure as clock ticks on bipartisan deal

Negotiations for an infrastructure package took center stage on Sunday as the clock ticks for the White House and Senate Republicans to strike a bipartisan deal on a trillion-dollar package.

The administration and Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office MORE (W.Va.), have traded infrastructure proposals in recent weeks as debate swirls about what should be included in the package, the total price tag and how the investments should be paid for.

A main sticking point is what Democrats have dubbed “human infrastructure,” which includes investments in long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities.

Republicans, however, are arguing that the package should remain focused on “core physical infrastructure,” including funding for roads and bridges.

The two sides are also at odds over how to pay for an infrastructure bill. The White House has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate, which Republicans are firmly opposed to. Instead, the GOP has called for repurposing some leftover COVID-19 funding to finance the investments.

Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE on Sunday said there is “still lots of daylight” between the two sides.

“There are a lot of conversations going on among a lot of members of the Senate and over on the House side. On Wednesday, there's going to be a markup for a key element of infrastructure policy. So lots going on right now but still lots of daylight, honestly, between us and our Republican friends,” Buttigieg told host John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Capito last week raised the GOP’s proposal by $50 billion. White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Joe Rogan slams CNN's Stelter: 'Your show is f---ing terrible' MORE said that while Biden expressed “gratitude for her effort and goodwill,” the offer “did not meet his objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis, and create new jobs.”

This comes after Senate Republicans unveiled a $928 billion infrastructure proposal last month. The offer, while substantially more than the caucus’s initial $568 billion proposal introduced in April, fell far short of the $1.7 trillion counteroffer White House officials made last week.

Buttigieg echoed that sentiment on Sunday, telling CBS that the offer “really did not meet the president's objectives in terms of what we need to do for a generational investment.”

While the two sides are still divided on a number of key infrastructure issues, one prominent Senate Democrat, Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinHollywood goes all in for the For the People Act The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (W.Va.), expressed optimism at the prospect of striking a bipartisan deal at this stage of negotiations. 

He told host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceSunday shows - Biden foreign policy in focus Pompeo defends Trump on Russia in Chris Wallace interview Lewandowski says Trump has not spoken to him about being reinstated MORE on “Fox News Sunday” that he is “very, very confident” that the two sides can reach a deal.

“There's a lot that's been done with the COVID bills that we put out that basically overlap in some areas of infrastructure, but there's a lot more that needs to be done. And I think we can come to that compromise to where we'll find a bipartisan deal. I'm very, very confident of that,” Manchin said.

He added that the two parties are “not that far apart,” adding that “we think we can find a pathway for it.”

Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmCleaner US gas can reduce Europe's reliance on Russian energy Overnight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve Biden administration eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve MORE also said that a compromise is still on the table but stressed that action on infrastructure “has got to be done soon.”

She noted that the House is set to mark up its version of the bill on Wednesday, upping the pressure to reach a deal.

“It's just curious why there isn't more coming together. ... The president still has hope. Joe Manchin still has hope. We all have hope that it can happen. They will be talking on Monday, but I can tell you the House will start their markup on Wednesday.”

Granholm placed the blame on Republicans for the drawn-out negotiations, telling CNN that it is “perplexing” that Republicans “haven’t moved further on critical pieces.”