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Senate Republicans make infrastructure counteroffer to Biden of $928 billion

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the GOP proposal still provides "no substantial" funds for "critical job-creating needs."

By
Don Johnson
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., asks questions during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to examine the fiscal year 2022 budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Pool Photo by Greg Nash/UPI
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., asks questions during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to examine the fiscal year 2022 budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Pool Photo by Greg Nash/UPI | License Photo

May 27 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans announced Thursday their revised counteroffer of a $928 billion infrastructure spending plan that falls far short of the amount President Joe Biden has proposed.

Biden had reduced his initial infrastructure proposal by $600 billion -- down from $1.7 trillion -- in his latest compromise to Republicans. The president said he wanted at least $1 trillion in an infrastructure plan over an eight-year period.

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Republicans said Thursday their plan will not require a tax increase, adding that they oppose Biden's support for raising corporate taxes that is part of the White House proposal. Lawmakers say the gulf between the two sides on a possible tax increase to pay for an infrastructure plan may be the most difficult to bridge.

The GOP plan proposes $506 billion for roads, $98 billion for public transit, $46 billion for passenger and freight rail and more than $72 billion for water infrastructure. The plan also calls for spending $65 billion for broadband, $56 billion for airports and $22 billion for ports and waterways.

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Biden said Thursday that he plans to meet next week about the counteroffer with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., who's leading the Senate GOP's negotiating team.

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"I haven't had a chance yet to go over the details of the counteroffer," Biden told reporters before departing for a day trip to Cleveland. "We're going to meet sometime next week."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said later Thursday that Biden is concerned the GOP proposal still provides "no substantial" funds for "critical job-creating needs."

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"Such as fixing our veterans' hospitals, building modern rail systems, repairing our transit systems, removing dangerous lead pipes, and powering America's leadership in a job-creating clean energy economy, among other things," Psaki said, adding that the exact plan to pay for infrastructure spending is note yet clear.

At a press conference earlier Thursday, Capito said the plan delivers on what Biden had asked for in earlier talks on a compromise proposal. She said the GOP proposal sticks to "core infrastructure" spending, a Republican priority to stick to traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

"Senate Republicans continue to negotiate in good faith," Capito said at the press conference.

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At the press conference, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., called the White House proposal "socialism camouflaged as infrastructure."

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said the GOP won't be raising taxes as part of a compromise.

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The Biden administration has proposed raising the corporate tax rate from the 21% established by Republicans' 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act to 28% to help pay for its infrastructure package -- a rate still lower than what it was between World War II and 2017.

The tax hike would fund the infrastructure plan within 15 years and would be combined with plans to discourage firms from listing tax havens as their address and offshoring profits.

Toomey said the GOP has calculated that about $700 billion in the last coronavirus relief package has yet to be spent, including spending between 2022 and 2031. That money includes the expansion of the child tax credit and aid to state and local governments.

"We believe that repurposing these funds needs to be a really important part of how we fill this gap," Toomey said.

The Biden administration had set a Memorial Day deadline for progress toward a bipartisan plan.

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