Sen. Capito: White House Wrong With Bipartisan Re-Definition Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., attends the Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing on the For the People Act in Russell Building on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 12 April 2021 02:36 PM
The White House might be trying to paint President Joe Biden's $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan as a bipartisan measure by saying there are Republicans across the United States who approve of it, but Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Monday there won't be a bipartisan measure if GOP lawmakers won't sign off on it.
"I think that if you are going to actually have a bipartisan infrastructure package as we've had numerous times in the past, you have to have buy-in from legislative leaders," Capito said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "That goes without question."
Her comments came in response to statements made by senior Biden adviser Anita Dunn, who told The Washington Post that "if you looked up 'bipartisan' in the dictionary, I think it would say support from Republicans and Democrats. It doesn't say the Republicans have to be in Congress."
Capito said there have been a number of conversations and ongoing talk about the infrastructure measure, and the "expansive definition of infrastructure" that has been seen in Biden's plan, a "Green New Deal wish list" is calling that definition into question.
"I don't think the American people, when they think of infrastructure, are thinking of home health aides and other things included in this bill," she said.
The senator added that she has just spent two weeks at home in West Virginia, where she and other toured road and bridge projects that are ongoing, and she said the nation's governors must be given the flexibility to go with what will work for their states.
"We looked at wastewater and clean drinking water projects in the northern part of the state," Capito said. "Those are the basic needs, along with broadband being a new basic need in my opinion, that I think is where we need to focus."
Capito added the basic needs are where there has been bipartisan agreement in the past, and she thinks the sides can get together again when it comes to that.
But with Biden's proposed bill, "we have to take some of this extraneous stuff out," Capito said. "It is really wrong and misleading to the American public for the president and others to say that we as Republicans are not willing to look forward to what the infrastructure of the future is. We passed a bill 21-0 a year ago that electric charging stations and some of the things that will be important moving forward. But that is just a small part."
Capito was not included in the Republicans going to the White House to speak with Biden about the proposal on Monday. However, she said her colleagues should emphasize what working together really means.
When the negotiations for the recent COVID-19 relief stimulus bill were under discussion, Biden would not move off his position. Republicans, though, came back with a counteroffer that was met with "dead silence" from the White House, Capito said.
"I think my problem is I don't want to be used as a tool of say bipartisanship only for the window dressing," she said. "I want to get in there and really work, but the optics of it is they'll go ahead and do what they want anyway with this reconciliation. That is the danger. The American public doesn't want that."