GOP, White House Talks on Infrastructure Yield No Breakthrough (Getty)
Erik Wasson, Laura Litvan and Steven T. Dennis Tuesday, 18 May 2021 06:55 PM
Republican senators and the Biden administration came to no agreement on how much to spend on a major new infrastructure package, or how to pay for it, in another negotiating session Tuesday.
“I would say there is progress but we still have a ways to go,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who led the presentation of a Republican counteroffer to the administration in Tuesday’s discussions, said after the talks. “They are digesting what we proposed and will react to that.”
Capito and a handful of other GOP senators met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo along with senior White House aides on Capitol Hill, in negotiations that followed a session hosted by President Joe Biden last week.
Tuesday’s session was positive, though there was no resolution on a topline number or how many years a bill might cover, GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said.
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said, “We will meet again soon.”
While the talks did cover funding methods — Biden has proposed corporate-tax hikes that Republicans have rejected — there was no specific negotiation in the absence of an agreement on the spending figure, according to Capito.
“We really have to find out what we are going to pay for,” Capito said.
Blunt said discussion included having a way to tax those who drive electric vehicles, either a vehicle miles traveled tax or an annual fee, against the gasoline tax that’s in place today. The White House has so far opposed applying user fees to funding infrastructure, arguing that it hurts lower-income Americans.
Public-private partnerships were also discussed, and the administration seemed open to them, according to Blunt. A possible infrastructure bank was another point of the talks, he said.