Congress

Biden to Resume Infrastructure Talks With Key Republican Capito on Wednesday

T.J. Kirkpatrick | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • President Joe Biden will meet with Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on Wednesday to discuss a potential infrastructure compromise.
  • The sides are still struggling to agree on what should go into a plan and how the government should pay for investments in infrastructure.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he wants to see a "clear direction" in talks by next week.

President Joe Biden will meet with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on Wednesday as Democrats and the GOP make a final push to forge a bipartisan infrastructure plan.

The president and Capito — a West Virginia Republican who has led her party's talks with the Biden administration — will huddle at the White House as they try to resolve disputes over what they say should go into a plan and how the government should pay for the investments.

It is unclear now what both sides would accept as a compromise package to upgrade American roads, bridges, airports, broadband and utilities, among a bevy of other areas a proposal could address.

The meeting comes as Democrats start to question whether the bipartisan effort can make progress, or if the party should push to pass a sprawling infrastructure plan on its own using special budget rules. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told his caucus that Democrats would write an infrastructure bill "with or without" Republican support when they return to Washington this month. He aims to pass legislation this summer.

On Sunday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he wants to see a "clear direction" in the talks by next week. He told CNN that "the negotiations can't go on forever."

Republicans sent Biden a $928 billion infrastructure counteroffer last week. The funding falls well short of the $1.7 trillion plan the president last proposed to the GOP.

The Republican measure does not include Biden priorities such as care for elderly and disabled Americans or upgrades to housing and schools. The GOP plan also calls to pay for the investments by repurposing coronavirus relief funds passed earlier this year.

Republicans have opposed Biden's push to raise the corporate tax rate to at least 25%, up from 21%, the level set as part of the 2017 GOP tax cuts. The White House also wants to crack down on tax avoidance by companies overseas and individuals in the U.S. to pay for infrastructure.

As both sides have criticized the other's proposed methods to raise money, it is unclear what would win bipartisan support.

Despite the chasm between White House and Republican priorities, Capito has sounded an optimistic note about the talks.

"I think we can get to real compromise, absolutely, because we're both still in the game," she told Fox News on Sunday.

The senator noted that the sides still disagree over whether an infrastructure plan should go beyond transportation, broadband and water systems. Democrats have argued a bill should invest in job training and care programs for dependent family members, which will help more Americans return to work.

Biden's infrastructure plan is the first part of his economic recovery program. The second piece focuses on education, child care and health care.

Democrats will likely have to pass at least the second Biden proposal on their own. The strategy comes with its own challenges, as Schumer would have to get all 50 members of his caucus to support a bill.

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