President Joe Biden offered to cut about a quarter of the spending out of the American Jobs Plan.
President Joe Biden offered a compromise on Friday that would cut his infrastructure plan by about a quarter. Senate Republicans spent the weekend attacking him for it.
In a statement on Friday, a spokesperson for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) dismissed Biden's proposal to bring his $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan down to $1.7 trillion, saying the offer is "well above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support."
"There continue to be vast differences between the White House and Senate Republicans when it comes to the definition of infrastructure, the magnitude of proposed spending, and how to pay for it," she said. "Based on today's meeting, the groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden."
Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the GOP leadership in the Senate, told Fox News Sunday that even with the cuts, "The number is too big because the scope of what the White House staff wants to call infrastructure is way too big."
"Our biggest gap is defining what infrastructure is," he added. "If we get to a definition of infrastructure that the country would have always accepted, that becomes a much narrower space than it appears to be right now."
"I think we're still pretty far apart," Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told ABC News.
Unnamed Republican staffers told CNN on Friday that congressional Republicans found Biden's offer discouraging and frustrating.
Biden's original plan called for a $2.25 trillion investment in roads, bridges, broadband, transit, water systems, clean energy, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure. The new spending would be funded by collecting more revenue from corporations, partially reversing the massive tax cut they received from Donald Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017.
After suggesting a $600 billion to $800 billion package instead, Senate Republicans led by Capito countered with what they called a $568 billion "robust package" focused only on transportation, broadband, and water — things they deemed to be real infrastructure.
Instead of raising taxes on corporations, they proposed to repurpose existing appropriations and charge higher fees to electric car users, discouraging clean energy usage and generating far less revenue than Biden requested. Capito said their plan was a "starting point" for negotiations with the administration.
"I think if you took the president's plan — his $2.2 trillion plan — and you really pulled out those areas of physical core infrastructure that we think is critically important, and you matched it, apples to apples, we're not nearly as far apart as it might seem," Capito told Fox News in April.
In reality, in addition to eliminating all of the climate and caregiving infrastructure provisions, the GOP plan offered only $189 billion in new investment beyond existing baseline spending — about 92% less than Biden requested.
The White House said Friday it was "concerned" that the GOP plan "excludes entirely some investments that are key to our competitiveness," provides "inadequate funding levels," and would effectively raise taxes "on those making less than $400,000 per year."
Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to Biden and White House director of public engagement, told CNN on Sunday that the president wants a deal soon, but "as there are meaningful negotiations going, taking place in a bipartisan manner, he's willing to let that play out."
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated little room for negotiation. And Blunt suggested the GOP would soon give up on finding a deal. "I do think we've got about a week or 10 days to decide if we can work together on this or not," he said.
Biden has repeatedly reached out to GOP lawmakers in search of a deal, but has said if they show no real movement, he will try to pass a bill without them.
"If like last time they come in with one-fourth or one-fifth of what I'm asking and say that's our final offer," he said on April 29, "then no, no go."
If Democrats stay united, they can pass Biden's jobs package without a single Republican vote.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.