The Bipartisanship Highway developed a major sinkhole Tuesday, leading to the end of talks between President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans over a compromise infrastructure package.
“I spoke with the president this afternoon, and he ended our infrastructure negotiations,” said Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
“Despite the progress we made in our negotiations, the president continued to respond with offers that included tax increases as his pay-for, instead of several practical options that would have not been harmful to individuals, families and small businesses.”
Biden “informed Senator Capito today that the latest offer from her group did not, in his view, meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement, The New York Times reported.
Although during their conversations Senate Republicans offered to spend more than they initially supported, and Biden offered to spend less, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming characterized the White House as inflexible on core issues, including Biden’s insistence on raising corporate taxes.
America’s legislators must stand strong against the enormous tax and spend boondoggle “infrastructure” plan in DC.
— Americans for Prosperity (@AFPhq) June 5, 2021
Biden “has never really moved toward us, in terms of infrastructure, he had lots of broad requests for things that the American people don’t see as infrastructure and he’s never backed away from his desire to continue to want to raise taxes,” he said.
Moderates of both parties will now see what can be built from the rubble.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, as well as Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah, have been talking for several weeks.
“We’ve got Republicans and Democrats that agree, pretty much down to dollars and cents,” Romney said. “Both what we’re going to spend the money for and how it’s going to be paid for.”
The package, which has yet to be publicly unveiled, is expected to focus on what are considered traditional types of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, and eschew the social programs Biden added into his original package.
“If you look at the items that we agree should be part of an infrastructure bill, and compare that with the White House, our numbers are pretty close,” Romney said. “So, you take [the social welfare spending] aside and say let’s just look at physical infrastructure.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated he may let the moderates have their chance, but will not wait forever before using the reconciliation process to ram a one-party bill through the Senate.
“We’re pursuing a two-path proposal,” Schumer said. “On the one hand there are bipartisan negotiations … that’s good, but that’s not going to be the only answer. We all know as a caucus we will not be able to do all the things that the country needs in a bipartisan way.”
.@POTUS just called to discuss infrastructure. I brought up flood resiliency and energy provisions that would benefit Louisiana as well as the rest of our nation. Strongly support @SenCapito‘s efforts. Any infrastructure package should and must be bipartisan.
— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) June 8, 2021
Barrasso indicated Republicans are unlikely to approve spending as much as Democrats want, according to NBC News.
“We’re at a point where to put a bipartisan program together with Republican votes, we’re as high as we go,” he said.
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