Biden says he’s ‘prepared to compromise’ on infrastructure plan during meeting with bipartisan group of lawmakers

President Joe Biden has framed his infrastructure plan as a means of strengthening democracy and undermining autocracy.

  • Biden met with a group of bipartisan lawmakers Monday to discuss his $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
  • He told reporters before the meeting that he was “prepared to compromise” on the legislation.
  • The GOP has argued much of the spending is directed toward nontraditional infrastructure.
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President Joe Biden told a bipartisan group of lawmakers Monday that he’s “prepared to compromise” on his administration’s $2 trillion nontraditional infrastructure plan.

Ahead of a White House meeting with both Democratic and Republican members of Congress, the president told reporters he’s willing to compromise on both what’s included in the package as well as how to pay for the landmark piece of legislation.

Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with the bipartisan group of lawmakers, all of whom have previously served as mayor or governor, in an effort to garner support for the American Jobs Plan that Republicans have rebuked since it was announced last month.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a Democrat, told ABC News reporter Trish Turner in a pool report that the meeting was “just an initial discussion,” though she said she thought it was a “good discussion” and was impressed with what lawmakers in the room had to say and how Biden responded.

Shaheen said the group discussed possible options for “pay-fors,” or offset savings found from other government programs, to pay for the proposed legislation.

“We talked about an infrastructure bank, we talked about bonding, we talked about user fees. A whole range of things,” Shaheen told Turner following the meeting.

When asked if Biden seemed committed to a bipartisan bill even if it’s smaller, Shaheen said, “he seemed open to discussing a whole range of things.”

The administration has indicated it’s more open to negotiation on the infrastructure bill than it was on Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill passed earlier this year, according to PBS News, though the White House has also signaled that the president is willing to forgo bipartisanship if doing so proves necessary to pass the legislation.

The president’s openness to cooperation with the GOP could put Republicans in a difficult position if they refuse to compromise on the nontraditional elements of the bill that are popular among American voters.

Republicans have condemned the bill primarily due to its inclusion of items that aren’t physical or traditional infrastructure, like support for home health care workers, strengthening broadband and water services, and clean energy tax credits. The GOP has falsely claimed that only 6% of the bill’s spending goes to rebuilding roads and bridges, though a Bank of America team calculated the real number is closer to half.

Following the meeting, Biden tweeted a photo of himself and fellow lawmakers discussing the bill in the Oval Office.

“I’m confident that together, we’ll be able to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure,” Biden tweeted.

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Mitch McConnell slams Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan as ‘a major missed opportunity’

Mitch McConnell.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

  • Biden unveiled the first part of his $4 trillion infrastructure plan on Wednesday.
  • McConnell said the $2 trillion plan focuses on things he doesn’t consider infrastructure and pushes a liberal agenda.
  • While the GOP says Biden’s plan does too much, progressives say it doesn’t do enough.
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President Joe Biden unveiled the first part of his $4 trillion infrastructure plan on Wednesday, and it contained funding for not only roads and bridges, but for investments in technology such as electric vehicles, labor and workforce development, housing and education, and more.

Calling it “a major missed opportunity,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill focuses less on physical infrastructure and more on catering to Democrats’ agendas.

On Wednesday, while some lawmakers lauded Biden’s proposal to confront big issues facing the country, like climate change and racial inequality, McConnell released a statement saying that less than 6% of the plan goes to roads and bridges, and more money is allocated to electric vehicles than roads, bridges, ports, airports, and waterways, combined.

“It contains sweeping far-left priorities like attacking blue-collar Americans’ Right to Work protections, a huge favor to Big Labor bosses,” McConnell said. “Every time that far-left dogma clashes with the interests of American families, today’s Democrats pick the dogma.”

McConnell also criticized Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion tax hike to fund the infrastructure plan and said infrastructure was being used as a “Trojan horse for the largest set of tax hikes in a generation.”

The tax hike proposed by Biden would be entirely levied against corporations, and partially reverses the Trump-era 2017 tax cut that reduced the rate from 35% to 21%, bringing it up to 28%. Biden said on Wednesday that the corporate tax rate would still be lower it was “between World War Two and 2017. Just doing that one thing will generate $1 trillion in additional revenue over 15 years.”

Republicans want to go smaller, progressives want to go bigger

McConnell’s critiques of the infrastructure plan are not new to his party. Even before the details of the plan were released, Republican lawmakers said they would not support a plan that focuses on elements beyond repairing physical infrastructure, like investments with climate change in mind, which Biden has made a core component of his infrastructure proposal since his campaign.

“Republicans won’t support another Green New Deal disguising itself as a transportation bill,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves said in a statement.

But while Republican lawmakers opposed Biden’s infrastructure plans for doing too much, progressive lawmakers are saying it’s not doing enough. On Wednesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, said that progressive prefer a “single, ambitious” infrastructure package, instead of Biden’s two-part plan.

“Given the president’s fierce resolve in passing the overwhelmingly popular American Rescue Plan earlier this month, it makes little sense to narrow his previous ambition on infrastructure or compromise with the physical realities of climate change,” Jayapal said.

Biden reiterated in his Wednesday speech his hopes that Congress come together to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and strengthen the economy.

He said thinks all Republicans in the House or Senate believe infrastructure improvements are needed. “They know China and other countries are eating our lunch. So there’s no reason why it can’t be bipartisan again. The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future.”

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