A group of Senate Republicans is expected to put forward their latest infrastructure pitch to the White House on Thursday amid a multi-month partisan stalemate over crafting a bipartisan bill.
“This is going to be a very good offer,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) told reporters Tuesday. He said that the GOP counterproposal could cost nearly $1 trillion, spread over eight years.
But hopes of striking a deal have dimmed in recent weeks, after the Biden administration reduced its infrastructure offer to $1.7 trillion from the $2.3 trillion originally proposed. The cut cost still failed to rally bipartisan support, as Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the lead GOP negotiator in infrastructure talks, said the bill’s price tag was “well above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support.”
Capito presented a $568 billion infrastructure proposal last month, a measure that left Democrats disinterested.
“The issue is, are Republicans going to be serious about getting over the bar of being serious,” Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said after the plan was unveiled. “Because this was not a real proposal.”
When asked whether the almost $1 trillion infrastructure would be the GOP’s last, Capito said, “I think that we’ve got good momentum, but we’ll see what [the White House’s] reaction is.”
Democratic lawmakers have sounded the alarm over the partisan impasse, with progressive members calling for the budget reconciliation process to pass the massive infrastructure bill. That would mean Democrats could move forward on an infrastructure package with a simple majority, which wouldn’t require a single Republican vote due to the party’s majority in the Senate.
Both sides of the aisle largely disagree about a slew of issues regarding infrastructure, including what infrastructure is and how the legislation should be paid for.
Democrats say that infrastructure expands to policies like care for the elderly and disabled Americans, while Republicans argue that infrastructure only covers traditional and physical measures.
President Joe Biden has also proposed funding the legislation through tax hikes on wealthy individuals and corporations, while GOP lawmakers have rejected any effort to impose tax increases, especially on corporations.
In the meantime, a bipartisan group of senators has joined in a separate effort to draft another infrastructure bill and new ways to pay for it. The plan is being negotiated by several lawmakers, including Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine), and Rob Portman (Ohio), as well as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
“We’re not very far from the Biden proposal on areas where we both think it’s appropriate for an infrastructure bill,” Romney told The Washington Post this week.
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.