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Infrastructure Talks Between Biden And The GOP Have Come To An End.
Joe Biden

Infrastructure Talks Between Biden And The GOP Have Come To An End.

After weeks of talks between President Joe Biden's administration and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WVa.), the White House has decided to call it quits on infrastructure negotiations with a group of Republicans.

The administration is now focusing on a larger bipartisan group of 20 senators, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), as they seek at least some GOP support for an infrastructure package.

The administration also stated that it is working with Democratic leaders in Congress to ensure the passage of an infrastructure package this summer, in an effort to appease progressives who are frustrated that the White House has abandoned hope of reaching an agreement with the GOP.

Biden spoke with Capito on Tuesday after meeting with the lead Republican infrastructure negotiator in the White House last week — a meeting that Capito described as the end of talks between the two parties.

“I spoke with the president this afternoon, and he terminated our infrastructure negotiations,” Capito explained.

Republicans proposed an infrastructure plan half the size of what the White House proposed, with far less new federal spending on infrastructure projects, and it did not address key Democratic priorities such as climate, housing, and elder care.

Biden, according to White House officials, was willing to cut more than $1 trillion in spending from his original proposal, whereas Republicans had only offered $150 billion in new spending since the beginning of negotiations.

In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden “informed Senator Capito today that the latest offer from her group did not, in his opinion, meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs.”

In the end, Republicans refused to engage on major tax provisions that the Biden administration wanted to see in the bill, such as an increased corporate tax rate. Meanwhile, Biden made a major concession: offering to keep the current, historically low corporate tax rate in place in exchange for a minimum corporate tax rate.

The White House is now shifting gears to talks with a bipartisan group of senators working on an alternative infrastructure compromise; however, that group, which is meeting on Tuesday, is said to be discussing an even smaller proposal that excludes the same kinds of Democratic priorities Biden was pushing for in his talks with Capito.

The administration did emphasize that it is preparing for Democrat-only infrastructure legislation, which has always been the most likely outcome. On Tuesday, Biden spoke with both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying they were coordinating to pass legislation in the House this month and move it to the Senate floor in July.

“The president remains committed to getting his economic legislation through Congress this summer,” Psaki said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Schumer told reporters that Democrats would pursue both options.

“It's possible that some of the bill that passes will be bipartisan, and some of it will be reconciliation, but we're not going to give up the bigness and boldness of this bill; we'll just pursue two paths, and they'll join at some point,” Schumer said.

Progressive lawmakers in Congress are already growing impatient with the bipartisan talks. On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told reporters that she believes the Senate should proceed with a budget reconciliation package, which would allow Democrats to pass an infrastructure bill across party lines.

“So far, we have nothing,” Warren said of the results of bipartisan negotiations.

Several Democrats expressed concerns after being briefed on the bipartisan talks during a caucus lunch on Tuesday, warning that continuing to work with Republicans would limit the size of an infrastructure package unnecessarily.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also tweeted Monday that he is "very concerned" that climate legislation will be completely excluded from the talks, citing "trouble."

“Climate has dropped out of the infrastructure discussion due to its bipartisanship detour, and it may not return,” Whitehouse wrote. “I don’t see the administration preparing for a close Senate climate vote. Why not marshal business support?”

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