Sen. Shelley Moore Capito claimed the only infrastructure the public wants is roads and bridges.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) defended the Senate GOP's $568 billion counterproposal to President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan on Friday during an appearance on Fox News, arguing that if you ignore all of the things the Republicans' plan leaves out, it's very close to Biden's.
"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 said. "I mean, we are far apart, but not nearly to a trillion, trillions of dollars."
The Republican plan would provide billions in funding for transportation, water systems, and broadband, but nothing for green energy, combating climate change, housing, child care, or caregiving.
Unlike the GOP plan, Biden's includes provisions focusing on care giving infrastructure, like "creating jobs and raising wages and benefits for essential home care workers," upgrading and expanding child care facilities, and expanding access to long-term care services under Medicaid. It would also invest in clean energy, energy efficiency in homes and businesses, and the cleanup of abandoned oil and gas wells.
On Friday, Capito said, "I think good physical core infrastructure is what the American people want us to do."
But polls show that most Americans want Biden's more expansive plan.
A Data for Progress poll released on Thursday showed 68% of registered voters support Biden's plan. When told specifics of the plan, including its climate provisions, support shot up to 71%.
More than three-quarters of those voters surveyed — and most of the Republicans — deemed it "very" or "somewhat" important for the plan to fund investments "that will help America combat climate change and create a thriving clean energy economy."
A Morning Consult/Politico poll released last Wednesday found 54% of voters agree that caregiving "can be considered part of American infrastructure" and 53% said the same of child care.
An early April poll conducted by Data for Progress and Invest in America showed 74% of likely voters support the America Jobs Plan's investment in the "care economy" and 64% support its "clean energy" investments.
Key Democratic senators panned the GOP proposal on Thursday, suggesting Republicans would have to offer a lot more to get a bipartisan deal.
Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) said it was "far too small to fund the investments the American people need and strongly support" and "not a serious effort to do anything at all about the climate crisis."
He called the $568 billion figure "light years out of the ballpark in terms of being able to get a bipartisan compromise."
"The decision by Senate Republicans to completely cut the funding for home and community-based services that is in the American Jobs Plan is a slap in the face to older adults and people with disabilities," Sen. Bob Casey (PA), chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said in a statement. "It's also an insult to the workers who provide home and community-based services."
If the GOP minority does not reach an agreement on a package, the Democratic House and Senate majorities could pass the bill without a single GOP vote under budget reconciliation rules — as long as they stay united.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.