Senate Republicans on Thursday proposed a $ 568 billion federal investment plan for infrastructure, well below the $ 2 trillion spending level demanded by US President Joe Biden, highlighting the difficult path to a two-pronged compromise on a new package of economic measures.
The Republican bid has weighed heavily on traditional infrastructure projects, with $ 299 billion spent on roads and bridges, $ 65 billion on broadband, $ 61 billion on public transportation, and $ 44 billion on airports.
The White House plan, on the other hand, aims for wider investment in research and development, manufacturing subsidies and building refurbishment, while much more federal funding is spent on tackling climate change – a critical element for many Democrats.
The Republican plan – led by West Virginia senator Shelley Moore Capito – does not include any of the White House proposed corporate tax increases, but instead suggests that the cost of the proposal should be covered by higher user fees for things like electric vehicles.
The Republican proposal follows a meeting of Biden with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the White House, but it may not be enough to spark a serious round of negotiations on the text.
Many Democrats and Biden government officials have already warned that if they didn’t think a Republican overture would meet the country’s needs, they would consider ways to implement their own infrastructure package without support from the opposition, using their small majority in both houses of Congress.
However, for such a strategy to succeed, democratic support would have to be virtually unanimous. That’s expected to be a tougher performance with the infrastructure bill than with the $ 1.9 billion stimulus plan adopted in March.
The infrastructure law debate is expected to be at the center of Capitol Hill in the coming months. It marks the second massive spending proposal put forward by Biden after the initial stimulus plan, and aims to address the chronic underinvestment in public goods that has held back the U.S. economy for decades, White House officials said.
Biden is also expected to announce a third major spending plan worth more than $ 1 trillion as early as next week, which would focus on childcare and education and be funded by tax increases for wealthy individuals.
While announcing their infrastructure plan, Republicans urged the White House to consider it.
“This is a serious attempt to offer. . . the most robust plan we’ve ever put forward as Republicans, ”Capito told reporters on Thursday. “And I think the American people want to see us work together.”
But the Democrats on Capitol Hill were already in the process of rejecting it. Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania senator, said it would “shift the tax burden on infrastructure investment from corporations to the middle class.”