United States President Joe Biden departs after speaking at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on Wednesday, June 2, 2021.
Samuel Corum | Bloomberg | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – Negotiations between the White House and a small group of Republican senators over a bipartisan infrastructure bill fell through on Tuesday amid deep disagreements about what infrastructure is and how much money should be allocated to it.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, W.Va., the leading Republican negotiator, said President Joe Biden spoke to her on the phone on Tuesday and ended negotiations.
“I spoke to the president this afternoon and he ended our infrastructure negotiations,” said Moore Capito in a statement.
“During our negotiations, we were respectfully, fully, and very openly engaged to each other and made several serious counter-offers, each of which represented the Republicans’ largest infrastructure investment,” she said.
With no big bargains in sight, Biden reached out to at least one Republican member of a bipartisan group of senators who were quietly working on a backup infrastructure plan.
Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., Tweeted that Biden called him Tuesday and “addressed flood resistance and energy precautions” that would strengthen his state.
“Strongly support it [Capito’s] Efforts. Every infrastructure package should and must be bipartisan, “he wrote.
Other Senators working on the alternative plan include Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. and Joe Manchin, DW.V.
They want up to 20 centrist senators to join their plan once it is completed.
The legislature drafting the proposal should meet on Tuesday afternoon.
While it’s unclear what a final plan would include, it could reportedly cost nearly $ 900 billion. The price would be roughly half of Biden’s last $ 1.7 trillion offer to the GOP.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Tuesday that the bipartisan group of senators is “trying to put together something closer to what the president needs” than Capito’s offer.
While Capito Biden last sent an offer totaling nearly $ 1 trillion, only a fraction of that was actual new spend and the rest was money that was being reused by other federal agencies.
But the leaders of Congress have not yet put their weight behind the larger group of senatorial talks.
As the most centrist Democrat in the Senate, Manchin will play an oversized role in any bill that is passed by the Chamber in which Democrats only have a majority of one seat.
So far, Manchin has insisted that all infrastructure laws are bipartisan. His stance could force his party to adopt a smaller, bipartisan infrastructure package this summer and wait until later in the year to address other priorities like caring for loved ones and clean energy projects in separate, unrelated bills.
Biden is also in contact with Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democratic Chairman of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
On Wednesday, DeFazio’s committee will draft a massive re-approval bill to fund land transport and highways for the next five years. Considered a “must-pass” expense bill, the highway bill could be modified to include several planks of Biden’s signature infrastructure plan.
This is a developing story. Please check again for updates.