President Biden Redirects Focus on Infrastructure After Republican Opposition
By Peter Ingle(@PeterIngleNC)
After weeks of negotiations between President Joe Biden and a Senate Republican group led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), it appears the President has pivoted his efforts toward a proposal from a bipartisan Senate group led by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The dispute between Biden and Capito not only stemmed from the scope of the infrastructure package, but also the nature of how to pay for it. While Capito’s final offer was $928 billion, only $257 billion is considered new spending. This is short of Biden’s original $2 trillion proposal and even his reduced $1.7 trillion plan.
Capito’s plan to pay for her proposal largely revolved around repurposing Congressional funds from other projects. In true GOP fashion, Capito and her Senate group most heavily targeted the little cash left from unspent COVID-19 relief funds.
In contrast, the White House has consistently supported increasing the corporate tax rate, the top federal income tax rate for individuals earning more than $400,000, and the capital gains tax to pay for an infrastructure bill.
Despite this broad disagreement, Capito described her plan as “a serious effort to reach a bipartisan agreement.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki mentioned that Capito’s plan “did not, in [Biden’s] view, meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs.”
Following Biden’s concluding call with Capito on Tuesday, the President met with a bipartisan group including Mitt Romney (R-UT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), however, Republicans in this group still seem hesitant to produce a meaningful compromise, particularly on how to pay for the bill.
On Wednesday, Portman reiterated Republican sentiment that the party does not want to create an infrastructure package that hurts the economy but instead “help to keep the economy moving in the right direction so, you know, taxes would be a huge mistake.”
Although Manchin and Sinema have indicated they will not support an infrastructure plan without bipartisan support, it is becoming increasingly likely that Democrats will have to move forward alone using reconciliation. Bypassing the filibuster would require the votes of all 50 Democratic Senators including Manchin.
Progressive Democrats are also becoming frustrated with the stalemate in negotiations. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) acknowledged that the negotiations shouldn’t be up to one person but “the 50 of us who now have the majority in the Senate.”
Additionally, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) commented that he does not “see any indication that Republicans are prepared to support the kind of serious legislation this country needs.”
Biden has repeatedly spoken about his commitment to bipartisan legislation, particularly on the issue of infrastructure. If Republicans continue to stall, Democratic leadership will be tested on their ability to keep their slim majority together.
Peter Ingle is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in Political Science and Public Policy with a minor in History. He has worked in the past as a Finance Intern for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and for North Carolina Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Anita Earls.