The GOP prepares to come up $500 billion on infrastructure after Biden comes down by $600 billion

Roger Wicker Mississippi
Sen. Roger Wicker.

  • GOP Sen. Roger Wicker said Republicans will bring Biden a $1 trillion infrastructure counter-offer.
  • This follows the White House’s offer to cut its $2.25 trillion plan down to $1.7 trillion.
  • Some Republicans still think $1 trillion is too high, while the parties are far apart on funding new spending.
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In his latest attempt to get Republicans on board with his infrastructure plan, President Joe Biden offered them a $1.7 trillion plan last week, down from his initial $2.25 trillion proposal. GOP lawmakers plan on countering that with a $1 trillion plan on Thursday.

A group of GOP senators, led by Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, met with Biden two weeks ago to discuss their initial $568 billion counter-proposal to Biden’s infrastructure plan. They missed last Tuesday’s deadline to bring the president a new offer, but Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi told reporters on Tuesday that a new offer close to $1 trillion will be brought to the table on Thursday.

“We’re going to hit a figure very close to what the president said he would accept, and it will end up being the most substantial infrastructure bill ever enacted by the federal government,” Wicker told reporters.

Capito’s office said in a statement to Insider last week that Friday’s White House offer was “well above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support” and that Republicans and the White House still differed on what’s considered infrastructure, how much should be spent on it, and where that money should come from.

While Biden has proposed funding the plan through corporate tax hikes, Republicans have strongly opposed doing so, instead suggesting “user-fees,” a set of charges levied on the users of a federal service or good, like raising the federal gas tax.

And last week, Insider reported that Capito floated the idea of taking unused federal unemployment money to fund infrastructure, which comes as 23 GOP-led states have so far announced they are ending unemployment benefits early following the weak April jobs report.

Wicker told reporters on Tuesday that repurposing stimulus funds, and not spending any new money, will be something the GOP will push for. Republicans are also pushing take Biden’s proposed tax hikes on the richest Americans and multinational firms off the table in any deal.

“I do think there’s a path forward here if the president is willing to take it,” Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, the fourth-ranking Senate Republican, told Insider. “As long as we’re not talking about tax hikes, I think that’s really important because Republicans are not going to support any tax hikes.”

Biden has proposed lifting the corporate tax rate to 28% from the 21% level put in place in the 2017 Republican tax law. He’s also seeking to impose higher taxes on investors and raise the marginal income tax rate.

Not all Republicans support the $1 trillion figure, likely complicating a bipartisan plan. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters that it’s “unlikely” he’d support a number that high, which could pose another barrier to reaching a bipartisan agreement.

As these negotiations continue, Democratic lawmakers are increasingly urging Biden to forego these discussions and move ahead with passing the comprehensive package he proposed, with corporate tax hikes, to get urgent aid to Americans.

“We appreciate the White House’s interest in reaching across the aisle to seek Republican support for overwhelmingly popular infrastructure priorities …” House Democrats wrote in a letter. “While bipartisan support is welcome, the pursuit of Republican votes cannot come at the expense of limiting the scope of popular investments.”

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59 House Democrats urge Biden to ditch Republicans and go even bigger on $7 trillion of infrastructure spending

Rep. Pramila Jayapal congress tech antitrust hearing
Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

  • House Democrats sent a letter to Democratic leadership urging them to go even bigger on infrastructure funding.
  • They said that Biden should see past GOP negotiations and pass an urgently needed bill.
  • Biden has remained committed to bipartisanship and plans to negotiate on another GOP counter-offer.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bipartisanship is the theme of President Joe Biden’s agenda these days, with him dedicating the majority of his May in persuading both sides of the aisle to get on board with his $4 trillion infrastructure plan.

But House Democrats are worried that these negotiations, while well-intentioned, could narrow down legislation that Americans urgently need, and they want Biden to go bigger – in line with his campaign promises.

Led by Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Jimmy Panetta of California, 59 House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday, urging them to take the opportunity to go big on infrastructure investments. They outlined three priorities regarding the size, scope, and speed of Biden’s American Jobs Plan, and they urged the congressional leaders to not get bogged down by Republican counter-offers. The letter was first reported on by ABC News.

“We appreciate the White House’s interest in reaching across the aisle to seek Republican support for overwhelmingly popular infrastructure priorities to invest in caregiving, workforce development, the environment, housing, and education, and to make the very wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes to reduce inequality,” they wrote in the letter. “While bipartisan support is welcome, the pursuit of Republican votes cannot come at the expense of limiting the scope of popular investments.”

A group of Senate Republicans, led by Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, introduced a $568 billion counter-proposal to Biden’s infrastructure plan. They have a Tuesday deadline to bring the president a new offer to negotiate, but Democrats don’t want this to be the focus of Biden’s agenda.

Here are the three main priorities the Democrats outlined to Schumer and Pelosi:

(1) Size

The lawmakers want Biden to prioritize his campaign promise of a $7 trillion infrastructure investment, including a four-year, $2 trillion investment on climate-focused infrastructure. Currently, Biden’s American Jobs Plan proposes $2.3 trillion over eight years, but Democrats want Biden to “maintain an ambitious infrastructure size” and go even bigger.

(2) Scope

After Republicans introduced their $568 billion infrastructure plan, Democrats called it “a joke” and “a slap in the face” given how small it was compared to Biden’s. In the letter, the Democrats cited Republicans’ “widespread climate denial,” among other things, as reasons to see past bipartisan negotiations and not succumb to a deal that doesn’t meet the needs of the economy and the climate.

(3) Speed

Given the fierce Republican opposition to Biden’s infrastructure plan as he proposed it, the Democratic group said “that robust legislation comprising the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan must be enacted as rapidly as possible, preferably as a single, ambitious package combining physical and social investments hand in hand.”

Republican lawmakers said that Biden’s plan focuses on too many things beyond physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges, but Democrats remained firm in their messaging that care-economy measures, like universal pre-K and affordable housing, belong in infrastructure.

Biden and Republican lawmakers have expressed the desire to strike a bipartisan deal by Memorial Day, and Pelosi aims to get a bill to the House floor by July 4. Democratic leaders, including Pelosi and Schumer, have remained optimistic on reaching a bipartisan agreement.

“The president has his vision,” Pelosi told reporters last week. “The Congress will work its will. In any event, I felt optimistic about our ability to pass such a bill, and more optimistic now about being able to do so in a bipartisan way.”

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Biden plans to meet with the top 4 congressional leaders at the White House in May

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • President Biden plans to host the top congressional leaders from both parties on May 12.
  • The meeting will take place two weeks after Biden is set to address a joint session of Congress.
  • Biden has pledged to work in a bipartisan manner with Republicans in Congress.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden plans to host the top congressional leaders from both parties on May 12, according to a White House official.

The meeting will include the top Democrats – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Chuck Schumer of New York – along with Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

While Pelosi and Schumer have already met with Biden at the White House, this would represent the first trip to the Oval Office for McCarthy and McConnell since the president was inaugurated in January.

The meeting was first reported by Bloomberg News on Wednesday.

During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to work in a bipartisan manner and turn down the fiery political rhetoric that was a hallmark of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

“The President looks forward to building on that engagement by having a dialogue with Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy about policy areas of mutual agreement and identifying common ground on which they can work together and deliver results on the challenges facing American families,” the White House official said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden “is eager to talk in-person” about partnering “on the goals of restoring trust in government and ensuring that government delivers for the American people.”

Read more: Meet Merrick Garland’s inner circle of 18 officials. They’ve got a packed plate investigating major police departments and even Rudy Giuliani.

The meeting will take place two weeks after Biden is set to address a joint session of Congress for the first time on Wednesday, where he’ll discuss his $1.8 trillion plan that would offer universal pre-K and two years of free community college.

Biden’s latest proposal follows the $2 trillion infrastructure plan that Democrats hope to pass this year, along with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that was signed into law in March.

While Pelosi and Schumer enjoy a warm relationship with the White House, McCarthy and McConnell have been highly critical of Biden as he nears his 100th day in office.

Biden and McConnell have a long working relationship from the president’s tenure in the Senate, but political polarization has turned what was once a comely upper chamber into a more partisan atmosphere.

“Behind President Biden’s familiar face, it’s like the most radical Washington Democrats have been handed the keys, and they’re trying to speed as far left as they can possibly go before American voters ask for their car back,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

On Sunday, McCarthy said that he had not had “one conversation” with the president since he took office.

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Kevin McCarthy says that Biden’s first 100 days have been a ‘bait and switch’ between promising bipartisanship but governing ‘as a socialist’

Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., Thursday, April 15, 2021, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

  • Kevin McCarthy criticized President Biden’s early tenure in office for its lack of bipartisanship.
  • “I have not met with the president one time, nor had one conversation,” he said.
  • McCarthy said that Republicans could work with Biden on a more targeted infrastructure bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California on Sunday criticized President Joe Biden’s early tenure in office, accusing the president of pulling a “bait and switch” in his approach to governance.

During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” McCarthy told host Chris Wallace that Biden campaigned as a moderate Democrat but was pursuing more progressive policies.

“If I look at the 100 days, it’s more of like bait and switch,” he said. “The bait was he was going to govern as bipartisan, but the switch is he’s governed as a socialist.”

McCarthy called out Biden for not doing enough to include the GOP in major legislative discussions.

Read more: This millennial GOP congressman voted to impeach Trump. Now he’s trying to save his party from going off a cliff.

“I have not met with the president one time, nor had one conversation,” he said.

For weeks after the November election, McCarthy demurred on admitting that Biden had indeed won, and after Biden took office, he questioned whether voters understood the contents of the COVID-19 relief bill that passed with Democratic support and has proven to be politically popular.

On Fox News, McCarthy indicated that Republicans were willing to collaborate with Democrats on modernizing the country’s infrastructure.

“Republicans would be the first ones who would work with him [on infrastructure], but the first thing we would need to do is define what [that] is,” he said. “Roads, bridges, airports, Broadcom? We would get this done. He’s trying to pick a number instead of foreseeing what do we need to make America competitive.”

In a new Fox News poll, 49% of voters backed Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill, with 41% opposed to the legislation.

When asked about how to pay for the infrastructure proposal, 56% of respondents backed business and corporate tax increases and 63% supported raising taxes on families earning over $400,000 annually.

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As Biden approaches 100th day in office, Republicans admit difficulties in attacking his agenda

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks at the White House.

  • As President Biden nears his 100th day in office, he has positive favorability ratings from voters.
  • Republicans are struggling to counter Biden’s robust policy agenda.
  • Biden’s push to raise corporate taxes to fund his infrastructure bill garners the support of voters.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden has befuddled Republicans in Washington, DC.

He successfully pushed through his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill despite the objections of every congressional Republican, arguing that the broadly popular legislation had sizeable support among GOP voters.

As someone who has endeared himself to Amtrak, Biden has long been a proponent of strengthening the country’s infrastructure, which has resulted in a proposed $2 trillion piece of legislation that would invest in everything from roads and bridges to broadband and public school upgrades.

Similar to the relief bill that passed in March, Republicans are arguing that the infrastructure bill is too expensive.

Biden, cognizant of the missteps that plagued the administration of former President Barack Obama from his former perch as the vice president, has been unrelenting in his view that now is the time for bold change in America.

Republicans have attacked that worldview, arguing that unified Democratic control of government has resulted in too much liberalism, with Biden’s governance being painted as a liability.

However, nearly 100 days into Biden’s first term, most voters seem to hold the opposite view and the GOP has been almost powerless to stop him.

Biden is getting good marks from the American public

Over the past few days, several major national polls have shown Biden with positive approval ratings.

The most recent Pew Research Center poll showed Biden with a 59% job approval rating – 39% of respondents disapproved of his performance.

The latest Morning Consult/Politico poll had Biden with a 60% job approval rating, while only 37% viewed his performance unfavorably.

Quinnipiac released a poll on Wednesday that also showed Biden in positive territory with a 48% approval rating, while 42% disapproved.

Read more: Imagine a 20-car motorcade taking you to dinner. That’s the White House bubble Joe Biden now finds himself living in.

The proposed infrastructure bill actually polls better among respondents in the Quinnipiac poll when asked if they’d support raising corporate taxes to fund the legislation, a position that most GOP members of Congress staunchly oppose.

biden amtrak
US Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill greet supporters as they prepare to board an Amtrak train to begin a campaign train tour in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 30, 2020.

It’s difficult to run against a president who’s popular and has just funneled a massive amount of stimulus into the economy to help the country recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans are increasingly becoming vocal about their predicament.

Biden’s longtime moderate sensibilities lend him credibility

Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota acknowledged the party’s struggles in countering Biden’s messaging.

“We need to get better at it,” he told The Hill. “I don’t think sometimes our messaging is as sharp as it should be because a lot of the things they’re doing are things that are popular – when you’re spending money, you’re popular.”

Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana told The Hill that the GOP was doing “poorly” in countering Biden’s agenda.

“I don’t think we’ve done a very good job because he’s getting away with defining himself and rolling out this stuff that we’re borrowing every penny for it, and the public is buying it,” Braun said. “We’ve got to find ways to articulate and scuffle in a better way, and I don’t know that we’ve found that.”

Biden, who served in the US Senate from 1973 to 2009 before holding the vice presidency from 2009 to 2017, has long had a reputation as dealmaking, old-school moderate Democrat.

As president, he has managed to deftly craft policy in a way that has drawn support from moderates and progressives, along with many independent voters.

Progressives, who mostly lined up behind Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, have overwhelmingly lined up behind Biden’s policy agenda so far, helping give the president almost unanimous support among Democratic voters in the most recent polling numbers.

However, Republicans in Congress are beginning to complain that Biden’s bipartisanship outreach hasn’t yielded them much input.

Republicans think Biden is overreaching with his policies

“He’s been out with a dialogue of unity and bipartisanship and almost pulled off a masterpiece in that there’s not been any of that,” Braun expressed to The Hill. “And that we need to be clarifying that. I think the invitations to the White House … I was on one of those … What did we end up with? Zero.”

GOP members have forecasted that over time, voters will lose an appetite for Biden’s larger spending proposals.

Sen. John Thune
Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota speaks at a GOP news conference alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“His tone is moderate and he’s an affable person, he’s a likeable individual and a lot of us know him, have relationships with him and it’s probably harder to attack somebody who is relatable and likeable,” Thune told The Hill, adding that “if he continues down the left, the far-left lane, with respect to policy, that eventually that will start to catch up with him.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who served with Biden in the Senate for over 20 years, said recently that Biden was presiding over a “left-wing administration” while praising him as a “first-rate person.”

“I like him personally, I mean, we’ve been friends for a long time,” McConnell said.

Biden’s focus on vaccinations and “straight talk” when it comes to COVID-19 have earned him high marks in his handling of the issue.

Over the past few weeks, Republicans have sought to shift the focus of Biden’s presidency to the US-Mexico border, which has seen a surge in unaccompanied migrant children hoping to cross the border.

However, while Biden’s approval on immigration issues remain his weak spot in polling, it has not significantly impacted his overall standing, much to the consternation of some Republicans.

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin lodged such a complaint, accusing the press of enabling Biden.

“I think he’s defined himself … I think all we have to do is point out what he’s doing, the disaster at the border,” he told The Hill. “When you have the mainstream media in your back pocket, you’re going to stay popular.”

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Biden remains opposed to eliminating the Senate filibuster, White House official says

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Kate Bedingfield said that President Biden continues to oppose eliminating the Senate filibuster.
  • “His preference is not to end the filibuster,” she said on Sunday.
  • Bedingfield’s comments highlight a divide between the White House and progressive lawmakers.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

White House Communications director Kate Bedingfield on Sunday said that President Joe Biden continues to oppose eliminating the Senate filibuster.

During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Bedingfield said that Biden, a 36-year veteran of the upper chamber, remains committed to forging bipartisan consensus with the GOP, even after a narrow 50-49 party-line vote to approve the latest COVID-19 relief package.

Bedingfield stated that Biden aims to keep the filibuster in place.

“It is still his position,” she said. “His preference is not to end the filibuster. He wants to work with Republicans, to work with independents. He believes that we are stronger when we build a broad coalition of support.”

Host Jake Tapper then asked Bedingfield how the administration would handle other pieces of legislation, including H.R.1, the massive election overhaul that passed in the House last week, along with the party’s longtime push to raise the minimum wage to $15.

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill was passed through the budget reconciliation process, which was able to overcome the usual 60-vote threshold for legislation to proceed.

With the Senate evenly split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans and Vice President Kamala Harris having the ability to break ties, every Democratic member has to be on board to proceed with major pieces of legislation unless Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York can pick up support from the dwindling number of GOP moderates.

Still, Bedingfield argued that the relief package had bipartisan support in the public sphere and among elected officials.

“We also got it done with the support of 75 percent of the American people, including over 50 percent of Republicans,” she said. “We able to pass this legislation with massive bipartisan support across the country. You had something like 400 mayors, Republicans and Democrats, come out in support of the rescue plan.”

Bedingfield’s comments highlight the divide between the White House and progressive lawmakers who argue that a minimum wage hike and voting rights legislation will not survive the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.

While progressives have pushed for Senate Democrats to ax the filibuster, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are strongly opposed to the idea.

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Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland says he would have voted to convict Trump in Senate impeachment trial

Larry Hogan
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at BD Life Sciences on the news of Maryland’s purchase of rapid Covid screening tests on September 10, 2020 in Sparks, Md.

  • Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said he would have voted to convict Trump if he were in the Senate.
  • Hogan said that Trump’s fate would likely be decided over the next two years.
  • “I think he’s still going to face the courts and the court of public opinion,” Hogan said.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said on Sunday that he would have crossed party lines to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial if he were a member of the Senate.

During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Hogan was asked by host Jake Tapper if he would have voted to convict Trump.

“I would have,” he answered.

The effort to convict Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the January 6 Capitol riots fell short by a 57-43 margin. A conviction required two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes.

While all 50 Democrats voted to convict Trump, they were joined by 7 Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Read more: Meet the little-known power player with the ‘hardest job’ on Capitol Hill. She’s shaping Trump’s impeachment trial and Joe Biden’s agenda.

Despite escaping a conviction yesterday, Hogan said that Trump’s fate would likely be decided over the next two years.

“There was yesterday’s vote, but there’s definitely a number of potential court cases, and I think he’s still going to face the courts and the court of public opinion,” he said.

For Hogan, a second-term governor in one of the most Democratic states in the nation, his words hearkened back to his father, the late Congressman Lawrence Hogan, who served in the House of Representatives from 1969 to 1975.

In July 1974, Congressman Hogan bucked his party and became the first House Republican to back impeachment efforts against then-President Richard Nixon, which the president later said was “a very bad blow” in fighting the three articles of impeachment connected to the Watergate scandal.

Governor Hogan has been a critic of Trump for some time now, supporting the first impeachment inquiry in 2020 against Trump and calling on Trump to resign after the Capitol riots.

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