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 PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war MORE (D-Calif.) or Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerA renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? 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 ScaliseCheney clashes with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up 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 Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Miami pauses reopenings as COVID-19 infections rise, schools nationally plot return Overnight Health Care: Trump downplaying of COVID-19 sparks new criticism of response Trump downplaying sparks new criticism of COVID-19 response 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 Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? McCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue 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 DavisState and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Ill.) told The Hill.

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