Senate Republicans unveiled a $928 billion infrastructure counter-proposal to President Biden’s $1.7 trillion plan on Thursday. But the majority of the funding for their bill will come from funds already allocated toward Covid-19 relief.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va), who has led the Republican effort, said their proposal is “a serious effort to try to reach a bipartisan agreement,” even though the GOP offer only includes $257 billion in new spending, as compared to Biden’s $1.7 trillion plan.
The GOP counteroffer comes after they rejected the White House’s proposed $1.7 trillion pared-down version of their American Jobs Plan, which was initially valued at $2.2 trillion.
The Republican offer includes $506 billion for roads, bridges and major projects; $98 billion for public transit; $46 billion for passenger and freight rail; $21 billion for safety; $22 billion for ports and waterways; $56 billion for airports; $22 billion for western water storage; $72 billion for water infrastructure; $65 billion for broadband infrastructure; and $20 billion for infrastructure financing.
The counteroffer, Capito says, allocates funding for physical infrastructure like roads and bridges, arguing that so-called “human infrastructure” in the White House’s deal — such as elder care and child care — is not what the American people want.
“We have stayed within the boundaries of our original plan. I think that’s what the American people think of when they think of infrastructure and that’s certainly what we do too,” Capito said on Thursday.
The White House reacted with some optimism. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it was “encouraging” that Republicans “substantially increased the funding level” to nearly $1 trillion and that they made “several constructive additions” on roads, bridges and rails. But, the White House is “concerned that their plan still provides no substantial new funds for critical job-creating needs.”
President Biden spoke with reporters about the Republican offer, telling them he talked with Sen. Capito today but has not yet had the chance to review the details of the GOP plan. “I told her we’d have to finish this very soon,” he said, adding that he will meet with her and other Republicans next week.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), did not react warmly to the GOP plan, saying it is not “a serious counteroffer.”
In an interview on MSNBC, Warren said, “First of all, they don’t have pay-fors for this. It’s not real. They have this illusory notion of how we’re going to take money that’s already been committed to other places and other spending.”
Warren added that the GOP’s proposal did not include any green jobs and noted that their offer “leaves behind” women by not including investments in child care, both major portions of the Democrats’ plan.
As Warren points out, the Democrats have proposed a way to fund their spending through tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, something Republicans are opposed to. The GOP proposes to pay for their latest plan by using unspent Covid-19 relief money — something the White House said they found concerning.
“We are worried major cuts in Covid relief funds could imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants, and rural hospitals using this money to get back on their feet after the crush of the pandemic,” Psaki said.
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