Senate Republicans are drafting their own infrastructure plan and want to tax people for it, not corporations

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

  • Republicans are starting to draft an infrastructure plan in a bid to strike a deal with Biden.
  • It may shift the financial burden of the plan onto people instead of large corporations.
  • The plan could come in at less than half of the $2.3 trillion proposal laid out by the White House.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A group of Senate Republicans is assembling an infrastructure plan, part of a bid to strike a deal with President Joe Biden on a package that’s more narrowly targeted in scope.

The Republican faction appears to consist of the same 10 GOP senators who pitched Biden a $618 billion stimulus package in early February. Those negotiations didn’t yield a breakthrough, as the Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus without any Republican votes.

These infrastructure proposals are shaping up to be similar, as the Republican group is preparing to unveil an infrastructure bill likely worth $600 billion to $800 billion, much smaller than Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan.

The bloc includes Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Here are some emerging outlines of the plan, based on comments from those Republican lawmakers:

  • $600 billion to $800 billion price tag.
  • Focused on roads, bridges, highways, airports, water and broadband.
  • May double the spending on roads and bridges from Biden plan ($115 billion).
  • Financed with “user-fees” such as a tax on vehicle-miles traveled.
  • No corporate tax hikes.

Romney said told reporters the plan remained in its “early stages,” an indication many details still need to be hashed out. Yet the developments could lead to weeks of negotiations between the Republican-led group and the White House on a smaller infrastructure plan.

Capito on Wednesday said “a sweet spot” for an bipartisan infrastructure deal would range between $600 billion to $800 billion – less than half of the $2.3 trillion package Biden laid out.

“What I’d like to do is get back to what I consider the regular definition of infrastructure in terms of job creation. So that’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, including broadband into that, water infrastructure,” she told CNBC.

‘The people who are using it’ should pay for infrastructure

Other Republicans say they would back shifting the cost of the package from large companies onto the “users” who benefit from government spending. Many are strongly opposed to reversing the Trump tax law to pay for an infrastructure overhaul.

“My own view is that the pay-for ought to come from people who are using it. So if its an airport, the people who are flying,” Romney told reporters. “If it’s a port, the people who are shipping into the port; if it’s a rail system, the people who are using the rails; If it’s highways, it ought to be gas if it’s a gasoline powered vehicle.”

Romney also said he supports implementing a mileage fee on drivers of electric vehicles. Then Capito suggested redirecting unused stimulus money to pay for an infrastructure plan among other measures.

“We’re going to look at Vehicle Miles Traveled as a possibility when you look at fleets or when you look at electric vehicles. We’re going to look at assessing electric vehicles for road usage even though they don’t pay into the gas tax,” she said.

Meanwhile, Cassidy is pushing for an even bigger federal commitment to repair roads and bridges.

“Something I would like to see is double the money for roads and bridges,” he said Wednesday, adding he was in talks on a plan alongside Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, the head of the National Governors Association.

News of the Republican plan triggered some early criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.

“We have a major crisis in terms of roads, bridges, water systems, affordable housing, you name it. [The GOP price tag] is nowhere near what we need,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP Senator says a ‘sweet spot’ on bipartisan infrastructure deal is less than half of what Biden wants

Shelley Moore Capito
Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va

  • Sen. Shelly Moore Capito said a “sweet spot” for a bipartisan infrastructure deal is less than half of what Biden wants.
  • “I would say probably into the $600 or $800 billion, but we haven’t put all of that together yet,” Capito told CNBC.
  • Other Republicans like Mitt Romney and Bill Cassidy are signaling there’s an infrastructure plan being drafted.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said a middle ground between Democrats and Republicans on an infrastructure deal would be significantly less than half of the $2.3 trillion package that President Joe Biden seeks.

“I think the best way for us to do this is hit the sweet spot of where we agree and I think we can agree on a lot of the measures moving forward. How much? I would say probably into the $600 or $800 billion, but we haven’t put all of that together yet,” Capito told CNBC.

Capito laid out some potential revenue elements, including unused coronavirus relief funds, road usage fees for electric cars, and a vehicle miles-traveled tax. She also suggested raising the gas tax, a measure the Biden administration has already ruled out.

“It’s going to have to come from a lot of different sources, but this is important,” she said. Capito did not bring up lifting corporate taxes.

The West Virginia Republican later told Capitol Hill reporters there was a group were drafting a counterproposal, suggesting it would be sized somewhere between $600 billion to $800 billion. Capito was part of the Republican group that pitched a $618 billion counterproposal, which Biden along with Democrats ultimately rejected.

Other Republicans are signaling they are putting together a new package. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday there is a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats drafting one.

Then Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said on Tuesday that a bipartisan group was assembling an “alternative” to the Biden plan. He indicated it would double the amount of spending on roads and bridges from the $115 billion that the president is seeking.

The Biden infrastructure plan includes major funding to fix roads and bridges and set up clean energy incentives. It also has federal funds for in-home elder care, public transit, and schools, among other areas.

Democrats are pressing to take advantage of the cheap cost of borrowing to fund new investments they say will curb inequality and grow the economy.

Republicans, however, are opposed to the Biden package, viewing it as a colossal liberal wish-list. Capito criticized the Biden proposal’s expansive scope, arguing it should be constrained to roads, bridges, airports, broadband, and water infrastructure.

“If we’re going to do this together, which we want to do and is our desire, we’ve got to find those areas and take away the extra infrastructure areas that the president put into his bill like home health aides and school building and all of these kinds of things,” she told CNBC.

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP senator says bipartisan infrastructure group wants to double Biden’s spending on roads and bridges

Bill Cassidy
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

  • Sen. Bill Cassidy says he’s working on an “alternative” to Biden’s multitrillion-dollar jobs plan.
  • “The money in our bill … would double the amount of money going for roads and bridges” compared to Biden, he said.
  • Cassidy was part of a key GOP working group that made a stimulus counteroffer to Biden this year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, indicated another major infrastructure plan was being drafted by lawmakers searching for another option besides President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal.

“I’ll be meeting with governors and bipartisan group of senators and [representatives] on a bill which will be an alternative to the President’s proposal,” Cassidy told Louisiana reporters on Tuesday.

He continued: “As I look at it, the money in our bill – at least what I’m proposing – would double the amount of money going for roads and bridges compared to what the president is putting forward.”

Biden’s plan sets aside $115 billion to upgrade roads and bridges. That suggests a potential alternative plan from Cassidy could allocate at least $230 billion.

Cassidy added his state was hit with a low grade in the White House’s ‘infrastructure report card’ issued on Monday. “In Louisiana if we’re a ‘D,’ we need a lot more infrastructure and a lot less of that something else,” he said.

The Louisiana senator formed part of a group of 10 Republican senators who met with Biden earlier this year and pitched a $618 billion coronavirus relief counterproposal. They recently panned Biden for calling that package inadequate to address the crisis. Democrats ultimately approved a $1.9 trillion rescue plan without Republican votes.

It was not immediately clear whether Cassidy was drafting a plan in tandem with any of those GOP lawmakers. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democrats favor a large package that ramps up spending on in-home care for the elderly and affordable housing. The GOP argues these measures go beyond traditional infrastructure, besides having a size and scope that are too large. They are also critical of hiking corporate taxes.

“There is bipartisan appetite for smart infrastructure bills that are built the right way,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday. “There isn’t much appetite for using the word “infrastructure” to justify a colossal, multitrillion-dollar slush fund for unrelated bad ideas.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

10 GOP Senators plan to propose a new compromise COVID-19 bill which would shrink direct payments to Americans from $1,400 to $1,000

Susan Collins-Rob Portman
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) speaks with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in the Capitol.

  • Ten GOP senators are planning to float a compromise COVID-19 bill capping stimulus payments at $50,000.
  • Under the GOP proposal, direct payments would be reduced from $1,400 to $1,000.
  • The senators want to meet with Biden and are urging Democrats not to push a package through via reconciliation.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A group of 10 Senate Republicans announced on Sunday they will soon unveil a $600 billion stimulus package in an effort to strike a compromise with the Biden administration.

The Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, also requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss their proposal. The plan’s size is less than a third of the $1.9 trillion plan envisioned by Biden and most Democratic leaders in Congress.

“We recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis,” the letter said.

In addition to Collins, it was signed by Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Todd Young of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Details about the forthcoming Republican plan trickled out on Sunday. Portman said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” it would aim the new round of direct payments to Americans who earn less than $50,000 a year and married couples making below $100,000.

According to Cassidy in a separate Fox News appearance, the direct payment amount would be cut from the current $1,400 Democratic proposal to $1,000. The Biden proposal has a provision for a fresh wave of $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans.

The Republican letter also sketched out more about the plan’s provisions. It would extend the $300 federal unemployment benefit; provide $160 billion in funds for virus testing and vaccine distribution; and provide extra money for the Paycheck Protection Program as well as schools.

Read more: The ultimate guide to Biden’s White House staff

Portman, who just last week announced that he would retire in 2022 after two terms, implored Democrats not to push a large relief bill through Congress using the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority.

Portman and the other nine GOP senators are calling on Biden to act on his call for “unity” and confer with the GOP group in crafting a smaller compromise package.

“My hope is the president will meet with us,” Portman said. 

Since being sworn in, Biden has emphasized he is open to seeking a bipartisan deal with Republicans on an economic relief package. Brian Deese, a top White House economic advisor, said that was still the case.

Biden “is open to ideas wherever they may come,” Deese told NBC News on Sunday. “What he’s uncompromising about is the need to move with speed on a comprehensive plan.”

Democrats, though, are preparing to circumvent Republicans using reconciliation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats would vote on a budget resolution this week, the first step in the process.

It appears unlikely the Biden administration will sign onto or adopt many elements of a GOP plan which curtails some of their top relief priorities like strengthened unemployment insurance.

“We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much,” Biden said at the White House on Friday. “The risk is not doing enough.”

In December 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package, which included $600 direct payments to individual Americans and $300 federal unemployment benefits until March 14.

Democratic leaders have set mid-March as a deadline for legislative action because millions of Americans stand to lose their jobless aid after that date.

At the time, Biden made it clear that the December package was only “a down payment” on a more comprehensive bill that he would seek to pass once he was in office.

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy says that Trump ‘in effect has conceded’ by authorizing the presidential transition

Bill Cassidy
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana).

  • GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said Sunday that President Donald Trump had effectively conceded by signing off on the official transition with President-elect Joe Biden.
  • “The president in effect has conceded when he ordered the General Services Administration to begin the transition,” the Louisiana Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.”
  • Cassidy has acknowledged Biden as the president-elect, but said that Trump’s legal challenges should be allowed to proceed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said on Sunday that President Donald Trump had effectively conceded by signing off on the official transition with President-elect Joe Biden.

“The president in effect has conceded when he ordered the General Services Administration to begin the transition,” the Louisiana Republican expressed on “Fox News Sunday” while speaking with host Chris Wallace.

After weeks of delays, GSA administrator Emily Murphy “ascertained” Biden as president-elect on November 23, which gave the Biden team millions of federal dollars to fund critical presidential transition efforts.

Despite the official authorization by Murphy, Trump continues to spread debunked claims of voter fraud and has lost a litany of lawsuits aimed at overturning election results in a multitude of states. While Cassidy has acknowledged Biden as the president-elect, he said that Trump’s legal challenges should be allowed to proceed in court.

“If there’s fraud, it should be uncovered, but it should be uncovered in a way that a judge agrees,” he said. “If the president’s able to show that, then that’s important. If they can’t show, that’s also important … It’s incumbent upon the president and his legal team to establish that.”

Wallace asked Cassidy if Trump’s refusal to accept the election results was causing harm to Biden’s legitimacy as president in the eyes of many Americans.

“You’re giving me a hypothetical and I can’t tell you what millions of people are going to do,” Cassidy said. “All I can say is we are one nation … I’m hopeful that we would move on.”

Cassidy, who has served in the Senate since 2015, was reelected to a second term in November.

Read the original article on Business Insider