Thursday the President met with seven Republicans to discuss the American Jobs Plan and the Republican counter offer. The seven Republicans that went to the meeting were Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV),Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS). Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). This may be considered the most important meeting in Joe Biden’s presidency to date. This meeting will show if Democrats and Republicans can work together.
The day prior, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said, “We first need to define what infrastructure is.” Democrats and Republicans do not see eye to eye on the price of the infrastructure bill. This meeting is coming after Republican governors in 11 states are ending the extra 300 dollar a month unemployment benefits as early as next month.
The White House wants to pass a 2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure bill that includes modernizing tens of thousands of miles of highways, roads, mainstreets, bridges, modernizing public transit, improving airports, replacing lead pipes used for drinking water, building affordable reliable high speed internet, modernizing public schools, maximizing investments to reduce climate change, creating jobs for essential home care workers, revitalize manufacturing, and training Americans for the jobs of the future. The White House wants to pay for this bill by raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% reversing a Trump era policy. House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said, “There is an opportunity to work together on infrastructure. Now let me preface that it does not include the tax increase,” referring to the corporate tax increase. Republicans call that a red line.
The Republican party in the Senate proposed a bill led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The bill is much smaller than the one proposed by the White House, sitting at a total of $565 billion. The bill breaks down to $299 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion for public transit, $44 billion for airports, $35 billion for drinkable water and waste sewers, $20 billion for railways, $17 billion for ports and inland water ports, $14 billion for water storage, and $13 billion for safety measures. Senator Moore said after the meeting that there may be potential for the Republican bill to increase from the $565 billion price point. Republicans want to pay for the proposal by increasing the user fees like toll booths. The president said “The burden then falls on the middle class who is already struggling.” At this time it is unknown if the bill proposed by the Republicans would pass the Senate, with 60 votes required to pass any bill and a 50–50 split in the chamber.
After the meeting the president told reporters there was no agreement reached, but he is optimistic that pathways exist. The President also added that if they do not reach a deal, they at least made a good faith effort. Republican aids said that they will only give the Democrats a week before they will give up on the bipartisan work.