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GOP voices skepticism about viability of $2T infrastructure deal

GOP voices skepticism about viability of $2T infrastructure deal
© Stefani Reynolds

Republicans are skeptical that any $2 trillion infrastructure deal will emerge from talks between the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress.

They said there was little chance that Democrats and Republicans could agree to a way to pay for the new spending, adding that they doubted Trump could agree with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (D-Calif.) or Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHow to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs On The Money: How demand is outstripping supply and hampering recovery | Montana pulls back jobless benefits | Yellen says higher rates may be necessary Senate Democrats announce B clean bus plan MORE (D-N.Y.) on a pay-for either.

Republicans, who were not invited to the White House for Tuesday’s meeting between Trump and top Democrats, have insisted that there be no tax hikes to pay for an infrastructure bill.

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“If they can find an agreement on how to pay for a $2 trillion infrastructure bill, with no taxes, no new taxes, I'd be interested in seeing that,” House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseLoyalty trumps policy in Stefanik's rise, Cheney's fall Likely Cheney successor appears on Bannon show to tout GOP unity Twitter accidentally suspends account of Stefanik's communications director MORE (R-La.) said Tuesday afternoon.

“Obviously, Speaker Pelosi didn't go into the meeting with any pay-fors today,” he added. “So at some point, they're going to have to show how they would pay for it — we've been trying to negotiate with them on a bill that will be fully paid for, with no new taxes.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Stephen Miller launching group to challenge Democrats' policies through lawsuits A year with the coronavirus: How we got here MORE (R-N.C.) said he wasn’t opposed to an infrastructure bill — even one that cost $2 trillion. But he questioned how the nation could pay for it.

“Obviously, if we could invest $2 trillion in infrastructure in a responsibly, fiscally responsible way, I'd be all for it,” he said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyLoyalty trumps policy in Stefanik's rise, Cheney's fall Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Likely Cheney successor appears on Bannon show to tout GOP unity MORE (R-Calif.) also questioned how to pay for such a bill.

“It's always going to come down to — everybody likes to spend money, but where do you get the money from?” he said.

Before the meeting, Scalise said any deal that moves forward needs to include reforms to the permitting process for large infrastructure projects, arguing current policy dramatically increases costs on major projects.

“If you reform that you can dramatically lower the cost of projects and do a lot more infrastructure building in this country,” he said Monday evening. “And so I want to see any bill dealing with infrastructure have an equal focus on reforming the broken permitting process.”

One GOP member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said they are working on a proposal that would shift the way infrastructure is funded by creating an Infrastructure Investment Fund that would pay for federal priorities like federal highways and bridges in addition to providing block grants to the states.

Democratic lawmakers are slated to return to the White House in three weeks to talk about ways to pay for a possible bill.

Republicans hope that at that meeting, they will be included.

“GOP should definitely have a seat at the table,” Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHouse Republicans request hearing with Capitol Police Board for first time since 1945 Bipartisan lawmakers weigh in on post-pandemic health care costs The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict MORE (R-Ill.) told The Hill.

“Of course we’ll be there,” McCarthy said.