Politics GOP to present their own smaller $650 billion infrastructure proposal

10:25  15 april  2021
10:25  15 april  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Joe Biden, Deb Fischer, Mitt Romney, Shelley Moore Capito are posing for a picture: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

Republicans are planning to offer their own $650billion infrastructure bill to rival Biden's bloated $2.2trillion plan.

Many GOP members have criticized Biden's bill for including in-home care, climate change, and housing under a plan meant to focus on 'infrastructure.'

Instead, they are submitting their own bill, which costs just a third of the White House's plan, and which they hope to present before Congress' May recess.

One of the Republicans leading the formulation of a counter infrastructure bill is Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who made her case for an opposing bill on national television.

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'What I'd like to do is get back to what I consider the regular definition of infrastructure in terms of job creation,' Capito said on CNBC on Wednesday.

'I would say probably into the 600 or $800 billion - but we haven't put all that together yet,' Capito added about the cost of the bill.

The Republican plan is set to include funding for broadband internet, which is also listed in Biden's 'American Jobs Plan.'

Sen. Mitt Romney listed other potential focus points of the Republican plan as the water system, sewers, roads, and airports.

Capito, meanwhile, mentioned roads, bridges, ports, airports, broadband and water infrastructure during her CNBC interview.

More specific details on the GOP plan are being kept under wraps as they work out the finer points, though.

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GOP Sen. Mitt Romney has suggested the $800 billion price tag referenced by Capito as the high-end of the sticker price is likely too high.

As for paying for the bill, Romney has previously expressed support for earmarking a gas tax to pay for an infrastructure bill without specifying if he'd like to see the current tax increased.

The federal government currently currently charges a tax of 18.4 cents on every gallon of gasoline.

'Clearly by bringing in additional revenue from actual miles driven is going to create some additional revenue,' Romney said, according to Politico.

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Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer has also suggested that an infrastructure bull could be split into a number of different smaller bills that are paid for in different ways.

'If you want road users to pay for it, have a bill that only deals with roads. If you want waterways to be part of the bill, then you have a bill that only deals with that so you can find appropriate pay-fors if you want a user fee,' Fischer said.

White House officials have privately expressed they could be interested in splitting up the bill to more easily pass bipartisan measures.

Whether or not the vast infrastructure bill will be a true bipartisan effort - which once seemed like a possibility - remains a concern for GOP members.

'Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. Changes are certain,' Biden said a week ago.

Members of the GOP aren't so sure Biden is ready to reach across the aisle, however.

'They are not doing any outreach that is significant,' said Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

'I wouldn't be being fully forthright here if I didn't say that's my concern, that it is going to be a sort of march of folks going to the White House, and we're doing bipartisan work in our committees, and in the end it becomes a partisan instrument,' Capito said about the partisanship of the bill.

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'They know the needs that are out there, when we talk about traditional infrastructure they want to see us get something done,' said Fischer added.

'I think everybody in here wants to work in a bipartisan manner, but we have to be realistic. You can't change the definitions on what infrastructure is just because you have a policy wish list and I think that's what we're seeing on the other side.'

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group met with Biden, but the emergence of new GOP plans suggests that meeting did not lend itself to future negotiations.

Biden has stated that he's open to negotiations for his $2.2 trillion plan, which likely wouldn't make it through the Senate without significant Republican support.

Despite Democrats having the votes, there is a 60-vote filibuster threshold, meaning 10 Republicans would have to support the bill.

It can also be moved through the budget reconciliation process, which would bypass the filibuster problem.

The process is more complicated to get a bill passed, but it would only require a simple majority, which Democrats have.

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The White House was still able to force through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 without support from GOP senators, creating fears among Republicans that negotiations are not a realistic option.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Cassidy claims he is working on a proposal with a bipartisan group, including Maryland's Gov. Larry Hogan, another Republican, CBS News reports.

GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski is also accepting of an alternate plan as long as Republicans have a sensible way of paying for it.

'It's how we define it, how we pay for it that gets everybody all twisted sideways,' Murkowski said of the thorny infrastructure definition.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed opposition to Biden's infrastructure bill as soon as it was released and has called it a 'Trojan horse' to get Democratic policies passed across the board.

Part of the issue is a potential raise in the corporate tax rate to help cover the costs of the plan.

In 2017, Republicans helped pass an overhauling of the tax system, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which included reducing tax rates for individuals and businesses.

Increasing the corporate tax rate to pay for the infrastructure bill would essentially reverse aspects of that recent bill, which was signed into law by Donald Trump in December 2017.

'I don't think there is going to be any appetite among Republicans for doing anything that undoes any of the 2017 law,' Senate Minority Whip John Thune said.

'The question is whether they are willing to do a truly infrastructure bill or whether they want to do the big government bill, and if they want to do the big government bill, it is hard to see how you would get a lot of Republicans to vote for what they are talking about,' Thune said of the White House's current plan.

CNN previously reported that the White House wants 'substantive progress' on the bill by May 31, though it's not clear if Republicans' plotting will alter that timeline.

Biden is scheduled for a joint address of Congress on April 28, which will likely involve plenty of discussion on the infrastructure bill.

With all of the milestone dates in place, time is ticking for a true bipartisan effort on the bill.

'I'd say there's about a month for actual negotiations to break out,' a Democratic close to the White House told CNN.

Romney told reporters that a bipartisan group of 20 senators are planning to meet on Thursday to try to make progress on the infrastructure issue.

Meanwhile, Biden could meet with a bipartisan group once again as soon as next week.

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