The Biden Administration is making efforts to work with Republican Senators–who have made known the little wiggle-room they have in regards to their $568 billion proposal–with the goal to come to some bipartisan conclusion surrounding President Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plans.
Democrats have expressed worries that the amount of time for both parties to finally reach an agreement is coming to an end. However, Republicans have noted that they have in fact raised the number in their plan and have also tried to cooperate with the White House.
“Productive conversations” have been in the works, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, and senators were expected to work toward a constructive conclusion alongside White House officials Louisa Terrell, head of legislative affairs, and Steve RIcchetti, senior adviser.
“We’re looking forward to constructive conversations,” Psaki added.
Biden, who has been prioritizing a comprehensive infrastructure plan and has stated his goal to “build back better” in his pledge to help boost the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic era, has been looking to Republicans for cooperation in regards to a bipartisan method of reaching these goals. Because majorities in the House and Senate are Democrats, Biden has sought Republican support instead of solely leaning on his party.
However, Republicans are strongly opposing the corporate tax hike that would come with Biden’s funding plan.
“If they’re willing to settle on targeting an infrastructure bill without revisiting the 2017 tax bill, we’ll work with them,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in relation to collaborating with Democrats on the issue. Still, though, McConnell noted that a $2 trillion–or larger–package “is not going to have any Republican support.”
This comes while Republicans are clamoring to hold onto the 2017 tax reductions they accomplished during Donald Trump’s presidency, when they brought corporate tax rates down from 35% to 21%. According to McConnell, raising taxes on wealthy Americans or on corporations is never going to receive any backing from Republicans.
As of now, Biden plans to raise corporate taxes back up to 28%.
Because Biden has proposed the two parties find ways to negotiate, Republicans met with White House-dispatched transportation and commerce secretaries in late May to discuss recently-requested additional details on Republicans’ plan for the package. West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito said she felt good about these discussions and planned to hear back from the White House sooner than later.
Still, though, following the White House and Republican meeting which took place just weeks ago, there was “not a significantly changed offer.”
Regardless, Biden has been faring well in the party-to-party discussions, and has not given up on efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement–even though Republicans’ counter offer had no change from their proposal of $568 billion. It does seem, though, that optimism from some of the GOP’s negotiators, such as Capito, has encouraged White House officials.
In regards to possible strategies that have been brought to light, one includes Biden coming to terms with a much more limited road, highway, bridge, and broadband infrastructure bill that would have the potential to please both parties–likely leaning more towards Republicans’ wishes. If this were to take place, Democrats would need to independently focus on climate change proposals and investments pertaining to education, hospitals, and child care.
Some Republicans have suggested dipping into unused coronavirus aid package funds to allocate toward potential infrastructure projects, with further funding coming from public-private partnerships or uncollected tax revenue.
However, a solely infrastructure-based bipartisan proposal, which would consist of far fewer funds than those which Biden has proposed, could mean many Democrats would withdraw their support while under the impression that Biden missed this major opportunity to set forth heavily innovative, transformative, and community-minded legislation.
Biden surely knows this and will likely do what he can to ensure climate change-fighting funds are included in the deal. But, as of now, the two parties have not little-to-no progress in reaching an agreement as both are holding strong to their two differing ideas about the size of the infrastructure package and how to acquire the funding necessary to see it through.