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What have Republicans said about Biden's $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan?

The President is still hopeful of finding a bipartisan compromise for his American Jobs Plan, the massive spending proposal aimed at overhauling the US economy.

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What have Republicans said about Biden's $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan?
CHIP SOMODEVILLA AFP

In late March President Joe Biden unveiled the American Jobs Plan, a $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill aimed at overhauling the US economy and reshaping American society.

The ambitious package comes with a hefty price tag and was roundly criticised by Republicans upon its announcement. GOP lawmakers warned that it risked overburdening the ailing economy with unsustainable levels of federal spending.

Since then the White House has returned with a new proposal, cutting the total cost to $1.7 trillion, but Republicans have remained resistant. GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito said that even the cheaper alternative was “well above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support.”

Senate Republicans unveil their infrastructure counter-proposal

Last Thursday Senate Republicans announced details of their legislative response to Biden’s American Jobs Plan; a $928 billion infrastructure package put forward by Capito. CNBC report that the GOP counter-offer includes the following:

  • $506 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, which includes $4 billion for the development of electric vehicles
  • $98 billion for public transit
  • $72 billion for water systems
  • $65 billion for broadband
  • $56 billion for airports
  • $46 billion for passenger and freight rail systems
  • $22 billion for ports and waterways
  • $22 billion for water storage
  • $21 billion for safety efforts
  • $20 billion for infrastructure financing

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell told reporters last Thursday that the GOP are willing to support a “significant infrastructure package,” adding: “We’re going to keep talking, and I understand the President is willing to keep talking.”

White House puts pressure on Republicans to find infrastructure compromise

In recent weeks President Biden has been holding bipartisan White House meetings in search of a compromise between the two parties, but there are signs that his patience is beginning to wear out. He appears reluctant to once again use reconciliation, the budgetary mechanism that allowed him to pass the American Rescue Plan without any GOP support, and his cabinet are now putting pressure on the Republicans. 

Biden’s Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Sunday that time is running out to find a bipartisan solution, setting a deadline for progress to be made.

“By the time that they return, which is June 7, just a week from tomorrow, we need a clear direction,” he said. “The President keeps saying inaction is not an option. And time is not unlimited here." He said the American people “expect us to do something.”

Biden will meet with Senator Capito at some point this week to discuss her proposal and is keeping his door open for any more counteroffers from the GOP. The two sides remain far apart in their estimations of the size of package required, but Capito maintains that she is positive about the chance of a bipartisan solution.

“I think we can get to real compromise, absolutely, because we’re both still in the game,” Capito said on Sunday. “I think the President told me himself that let’s get this done. We realize this is not easy. I think we bring every idea that’s on the table into the negotiations to see how we can achieve this and get it across the threshold.”