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 PelosiOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs On The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel MORE (D-Calif.) or Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump signs short-term spending bill to avert shutdown Senators urge Trump to suspend Huawei license approvals Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 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 ScaliseTrump attacks Fox News for interviewing Swalwell How House Republicans have stayed unified on impeachment Chris Wallace: Trump testifying 'would be akin to Prince Andrew testifying about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein' 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 MeadowsHouse GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment Michelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Sondland testimony looms over impeachment hearings this week 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: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns McCarthy blasts Pelosi on USMCA The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Witness dismisses 'fictional' GOP claims of Ukraine meddling 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 DavisNew hemp trade group presses lawmakers on immigration reform, regs Shimkus says he's reconsidering retirement Shimkus says he's been asked to reconsider retirement MORE (R-Ill.) told The Hill.

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