A top Republican Senate negotiator will meet with President Joe Biden Wednesday to discuss a bipartisan infrastructure deal that has so far eluded the two parties despite weeks of talks.
Biden plans to sit down with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia to talk in more detail about the GOP’s latest offer on an infrastructure compromise.
Republicans last week unveiled a $928 billion proposal that would pay for roads, bridges, waterways, and expanded broadband, among other provisions.
It’s still far short of the $1.7 trillion “Build Back Better” plan pitched by the White House, but both Biden and Republicans remain eager to find a path to a compromise that can win GOP support in the Senate.
Biden’s meeting follows a new memo issued by Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging Democrats to promote the parts of the Biden package that are unrelated to infrastructure, which Republicans oppose.
Congress is not in session this week, and lawmakers are back in home districts meeting with constituents.
The California Democrat called on lawmakers to hold events in their district to promote the “care economy.” Biden’s infrastructure package would provide $400 billion for elder care and is a major sticking point in reaching a deal with the GOP.
Pelosi’s memo underscores the difficulty Biden faces in trying to strike a narrow deal with Republicans that the liberal base of the party is likely to oppose.
“Investing in caregiving will help get Americans back to work, create good-paying jobs, raise wages, boost lifetime earnings, support small businesses, and grow our economy for all Americans,” Pelosi wrote to fellow Democrats.
Republicans working directly with Biden, however, aren’t paying much attention to the House or Senate Democrats.
Capito told Fox News Sunday she believes Republicans and the president can “absolutely” reach a compromise “because we are both still in the game.”
Republicans and Democrats both believe significant progress must be achieved in the coming days and that talks cannot drag on much longer.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Friday he plans to put an infrastructure measure on the floor for consideration sometime in July before Congress leaves for the long August recess.
Capito told Fox the two parties “are inching towards one another” after Biden lowered the cost of his initial $2.3 trillion package and the GOP raised its own proposal from $568 billion.
But a nearly $800 billion gap remains between the two proposals, and the parties remain far apart on the scope of the measure and mechanism to pay for it.
Biden wants to hike the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% to pay for some of the infrastructure proposal, which is a nonstarter for Republicans who authored the 2017 bill lowering tax rates.
Instead, Republicans propose paying for their infrastructure measure with unused COVID aid money and existing funds already dedicated to highway construction and repairs.
Biden’s measure includes massive funding for programs unrelated to infrastructure, including $400 billion for elder care and an additional $100 billion to provide electric vehicle tax credits.
Republicans say they’ll only back legislation that sticks to core infrastructure projects.
Democrats, meanwhile, are planning to ramp up pressure for Biden’s much bigger proposal.
Pelosi called on lawmakers to hold “care economy” events in their districts next week, including a “toolkit,” to help plan activities to promote the Biden package.
Pelosi acknowledged to lawmakers the economy is once again growing and more than 1.5 million jobs have been created since Biden took office. But she said the Biden infrastructure bill will help more people return to work by providing child care and elder care funding.
“We cannot afford to miss an opportunity to Build Back Better with millions of Americans still out of work,” Pelosi wrote to lawmakers.
Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: ‘Still in the game’: Biden and GOP meet again this week on infrastructure