In his Friday afternoon call with the head GOP negotiator, President Biden rejected the latest Republican offer on infrastructure. The two will talk again on Monday, as the talks prolong for yet another week. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Biden discussed whether there was a path forward since they are far apart at this point on how much new spending needs to be done, how to pay for it, and what infrastructure actually is. Approximately $50 billion is included in Republicans’ latest proposal in new infrastructure spending, but Biden indicated that it falls short of the priorities he has for economic growth and climate change. After meeting for their first one-on-one talks at the White House on Wednesday, the two spoke on the phone. According to reports, Biden discussed on Wednesday what he would like to see included in any future GOP counteroffers on additional spending, as well as how his own proposal would be funded.
In a statement following the call, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Capito conveyed to Obama a $50 billion increase in spending across the White House’s infrastructure programs. The president thanked her for her service and goodwill, but also pointed out that the current proposal was insufficient to meet his objectives, which include growing the economy, tackling the climate crisis, and creating new jobs.”
Neither the Republican or Biden proposals were mentioned in the readout from Capito’s office, but they did mention that they discussed both Republican infrastructure proposals. Both statements noted that they would meet again on Monday. White House officials are still assessing the next steps: whether to seek a bipartisan agreement or to try a special budgetary procedure known as reconciliation. Dems could effectively remove Republicans from the negotiating table, as they enacted COVID-19 relief in March, if they opt for the latter approach.
Several members of the administration are pressing him, as are other members of Biden’s party, to take decisive action on the issue by Monday, when Congress resumes after the Memorial Day recess. Even so, they want to underscore that the president is committed to continuing bipartisan negotiations for the foreseeable future, since he has scheduled an upcoming conversation with Capito. In her response, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has denied any context of an upcoming deadline, although she acknowledged the issue is time sensitive.
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