President Joe Biden walked away from talks with GOP senators led by Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WV) on Tuesday over spending and taxing disagreements concerning the funding of his infrastructure bill.
Capito and Biden spoke for only about five minutes on Tuesday before Biden ended the talks between the two sides who were still roughly $700 billion apart following the GOP’s final offer. Biden claimed the negotiations were in good faith but that they had run their course. Instead, he has shifted his focus to a bipartisan group of 20 senators to continue talks.
Biden “informed Senator Capito today that the latest offer from her group did not, in his view, meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki asserted in a statement. “He offered his gratitude to her for her efforts and good faith conversations, but expressed his disappointment that, while he was willing to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, the Republican group had increased their proposed new investments by only $150 billion.”
The bipartisan group of senators, dubbed the G20, will be led by Republican Senator Mitt Romney. He has reportedly been working to present an alternative offer as a backup in case talks with the White House failed. Biden is reportedly already speaking with Democrats in the group to try and salvage a compromise. Those senators include Kyrsten Sinema, Bill Cassidy, and Joe Manchin.
(Video Credit: CNBC Television)
“It kind of surprised me that this other group decided to try their luck at it. It’s got to be different than Capito,” remarked Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) in an interview. “We’re running out of time. We have seven weeks counting this week until we break in August … we’re running out of opportunities.”
The impasse resulted from the two sides locking horns over taxes. Republicans served up a $928 billion infrastructure proposal. It would have included approximately $330 billion in new spending on related projects. Biden’s $1.7 trillion plan is based on raising taxes on big businesses and wealthy Americans. Taxation as a primary means of funding was a red line that Republicans refused to cross and resulted in Biden nixing the negotiations.
“Despite the progress we made in our negotiations, the president continued to respond with offers that included tax increases as his pay for, instead of several practical options that would have not been harmful to individuals, families, and small businesses,” Capito commented in a statement.
My statement on President Biden ending infrastructure negotiations with Republicans: pic.twitter.com/jeRYcuXFbC
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) June 8, 2021
“While I appreciate President Biden’s willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept the very robust and targeted infrastructure package, and instead, end our discussions. However, this does not mean bipartisanship isn’t feasible,” she posited.
One of the GOP’s major requests was that Biden shift coronavirus relief funds from the American Rescue Plan to pay for infrastructure. That was never agreed to. And the president was demanding that the plan’s spending tally at least $1 trillion. Something that the Republicans in the end just could not stomach.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who was at one point in Capito’s group, accused Biden of attempting “to satisfy an insatiable far-left agenda that demands massive tax hikes, and spending trillions of dollars on things unrelated to physical infrastructure.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated that as talks “seem to be running into a brick wall,” Democrats are “pursuing a two-path proposal.”
“At the same time, we are pursuing the pursuit of reconciliation,” Schumer declared, referring to the process of passing legislation with a simple majority in the Senate.
“It may well be that part of the bill that’ll pass will be bipartisan and part of it will be through reconciliation. But we’re not going to sacrifice the bigness and boldness in this bill,” he proclaimed in a statement.
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