Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promotes the Senate’s legislative achievements when he holds a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 25, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Swimming pool | Reuters
Senate Democrats plan to move forward with a massive infrastructure package next month – regardless of whether Republicans get on board – while pushing for law to be passed this summer.
Senators will be leaving Washington for Memorial Day next week. When lawmakers return, the Democrats will want to draft an infrastructure plan that will include everything from transportation to broadband, utilities to vocational training.
“While the president discusses infrastructure laws with Senate Republicans, the committees will hold hearings and continue their work on the Build Back Better agenda, with or without the support of Republican Senators,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN .Y., Wrote in a letter to the Democrats on Friday. “We have to pass a comprehensive labor and infrastructure law this summer.”
President Joe Biden has been working with the Senate Republicans to see if they can hit a bipartisan deal to reshape America’s infrastructure. After the recent back and forth in their talks, the sides seem far from reaching an agreement on what should go into a bill and how the government should pay for it.
Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:
As the White House and Republicans struggle for consensus, some Democrats have urged their party to try to pass a law without the support of the GOP. Democrats can do this through the budget reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority vote in the evenly split Senate.
Republicans sent Biden a $ 928 billion infrastructure counteroffer Thursday. It was roughly half the $ 1.7 trillion proposal the White House last sent to the GOP. The Biden government initially submitted a $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.
In response to the offer, White House press secretary Jen Psaki praised “constructive” spending on roads, bridges and railways. She said the White House was “still concerned” about proposed Republicans spending on rail modernization and clean energy transition, as well as the party’s demands to pay for infrastructure with previously passed coronavirus aids.
The White House expects almost all aid money to be spent. The diversion of funds could jeopardize support to small businesses and hospitals, Psaki said.
Despite the persistent differences, the sides expect talks to continue. Biden could meet again next week with Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginia Republican who is negotiating with the White House.
The parties have to work through two major disagreements to reach an agreement. First, they have different ideas about what constitutes infrastructure.
The White House wants to include programs like caring for the elderly and disabled Americans, which it considers essential to getting Americans back into work and stimulating the economy. Republicans want to limit legislation to areas such as transport, broadband and water.
Biden and the Republicans may also struggle to compromise paying for the infrastructure plan. The president wants to raise the corporate tax rate to at least 25% – and take action against corporate tax avoidance abroad and individual tax underpayment in Germany – in order to offset the expenses.
The GOP has announced that it will not support changes to its 2017 tax cuts as part of an infrastructure law. The party lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.
It is unclear how long the talks will last if Democrats and Republicans fail to reach an agreement. Capito said Thursday Republicans would “continue to negotiate in good faith”.
In his letter, Schumer noted that he was “encouraged” by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works to come up with a bipartisan land transport bill this week for about $ 300 billion.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky who previously said he would stand up to fight Biden’s broader economic agenda, said Thursday that his party would continue to liaise with the president.
“We would like to get a result on a major infrastructure package,” he told CNBC.
Democrats passed Biden’s first major bill, a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, without a Republican vote in March.
Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.