Republican lawmakers on Thursday unveiled their infrastructure counteroffer to President Biden, aiming to spend more than $920 billion on fixing the nation’s roads and bridges.
“We continue to negotiate in good faith,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginia Republican who has taken the lead in negotiations with the White House on the topic.
Republicans are proposing that $506 billion of their nearly $1 trillion offer go to “roads, bridges” and other major transportation projects. Of that figure, $4 billion is earmarked electric vehicle infrastructure — a concession to Mr. Biden’s ambitions to phase out gas-powered cars by 2035.
Apart from major transportation systems, the GOP plan calls for spending $98 billion on public transit, $72 billion on shoring up the nation’s water infrastructure and $65 billion to expand broadband internet access.
The counteroffer comes after Mr. Biden lowered the price tag of his initial proposal from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion. Most of the spending proposed by the White House would be new revenue generated from tax hikes on corporations and income.
Republicans, who say tax increases are a “red line” for the negotiations, want to fund the program by relying, in part, on unspent funds already allocated for coronavirus relief.
Even though negotiations are ongoing, a significant gap exists between Democrats and Republicans on the meaning of infrastructure. Mr. Biden’s proposal, even trimmed down to $1.7 trillion, still focuses heavily on what Democrats call “human infrastructure,” such as job retraining for felons and more public housing.
Republicans argue that an infrastructure plan that does not explicitly focus on rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges cannot generate bipartisan support.
“We want to focus on actual infrastructure,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.