Romney offers 'bipartisan' infrastructure deal that's even smaller than the GOP plan

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Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) wants to spend even less on infrastructure than the GOP counterproposal while ignoring climate change completely.

Senate Republicans have proposed spending just a fraction of the infrastructure investment President Joe Biden has requested. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Monday that he and a bipartisan group of senators would propose to invest even less than that.

Romney told the Hill on Monday that he and a group including Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have "pretty much agreed on the spending level" of around $880 billion in total infrastructure spending.

This total would be even smaller than the $928 billion counterplan being offered by a Republican group led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia in late May. But even that package would provide $257 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, water systems, broadband, and transit — just 11% of Biden's initial spending request — and virtually nothing on clean energy, climate change, child care, or caregiving infrastructure.

Romney had previously objected to even an $800 billion infrastructure bill, calling it "a little high." He has also opposed investment in the climate and caregiving provisions, focusing only on the more traditional infrastructure items.

Biden's initial American Jobs Plan proposal was for $2.25 trillion in new investment on transportation, climate, and caregiving infrastructure. His plan would be funded by increased corporate tax revenue.

Republicans unanimously opposed his tax increase proposal and have misleadingly tried to count baseline spending — the money that would already be spent, adjusted for inflation — in their counterproposals.

On May 21, Biden offered to compromise, cutting his request by a quarter to $1.7 trillion. Republicans attacked him, calling even that too big and arguing that it included things they do not consider to be real infrastructure.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) lamented on Monday that "Climate has fallen out of the infrastructure discussion, as it took its bipartisanship detour. It may not return."

He warned that to address the problem, "We need planning, organizing and momentum. It's not going to be easy. And it has to work. We are running out of time."

The White House and Senate Republicans had initially set a Memorial Day deadline for getting a bipartisan infrastructure deal, but they remain far apart.

With narrow majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats could pass the entire package without a single Republican vote if they stay unified. But Manchin — whose vote would be necessary for such a maneuver — said on Thursday that he does not yet support a go-it-alone approach.

"We need to do something in a bipartisan way," he told CNN. "We've got to work together and that takes a lot of time and energy and patience."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.