Politics Infrastructure talks enter last-ditch stage as both Republicans and Democrats eye gas tax increase
What Joe Biden wants from this week’s critical infrastructure talks
The president and his team hold out hope for a deal. They also believe voters will reward them for trying.The president still has faith in his ability to win over reluctant Senate Republicans and advisers see benefits — reputationally and politically — in working across the aisle.
- Sen. Mitt Romney told Insider a bipartisan group is weighing indexing the gas tax to inflation.
- The gas tax hasn't been raised since 1993.
- Other Democrats appeared noncommittal, reflecting the delicate state of the talks.
Republicans and Democrats are eyeing a potential increase to the gas tax as both parties enter a last-ditch effort to strike a bipartisan infrastructure deal.
The bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers includes Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman of Ohio, as well as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; and Jon Tester of Montana. The group emerged after President Joe Biden pulled the plug on negotiations with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who had been Republicans' chief negotiator.
Biden, Capito to continue bipartisan infrastructure talks Friday
President Joe Biden will reconnect with Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on Friday to further discuss a possible bipartisan compromise on an infrastructure bill. Your browser does not support this video The two met in the Oval Office for just over an hour Wednesday afternoon to talk about the $928 billion GOP infrastructure proposal unveiled last week, but announced no major breakthroughs on how they plan to bridge their still substantive differences.
Romney told Insider on Thursday that the new working group was weighing indexing the gas tax to inflation. The 18-cent levysince 1993.
"It keeps it at the same value that it has today," the Utah Republican said.
The White House has previously said bumping up the gas tax was off limits given Biden's pledge to not increase taxes for households earning under $400,000. But the idea gained some momentum among Democrats when Sen. Dick Durbin of Iowa, the second-ranked Democrat in the chamber, said he believed it "ultimately has to happen."
"I look at it as a user fee. We pay taxes on gasoline because we want to drive our cars on safe roads," Durbin told reporters.
Still, other Democrats in the group like Tester appeared noncommittal. "It's not one of my favorite things, but we'll see what the entire deal looks like," he said in an interview. "I gotta see it in the context of everything, see what stays in and drops out."
Biden proposes minimum corporate tax rate to fund $1 trillion infrastructure spending
President Joe Biden on Wednesday proposed an infrastructure package worth $1 trillion in new spending that would be funded without raising the corporate tax rate. The new pitch aims to avoid Republican scorn by sidestepping the president's previously proposed corporate tax rate hike. It would instead implement a minimum corporate tax rate of 15%, aimed at some of the most profitable corporations in the country.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, another Democrat in the group, declined to answer whether he supported it, reflecting the delicate state of the negotiations. "I actually think it's better ... until the cake is fully baked, to keep the ingredients quiet," he told Insider.
Both parties remain far apart on the scope of an infrastructure bill and how to pay for it. It comes as other Republicans are signaling that climate provisions wouldn't be included in their package. "If they're looking for a line item that says 'climate,' they're not going to see that," Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said of Democrats.
A few Senate Democrats have stepped up their criticism of the bipartisan talks in recent days, warning that such talks risk omitting measures to combat climate change in an infrastructure deal. Another top Democrat threatened to withhold his vote if climate wasn't sufficiently addressed.
"On a big infrastructure bill, to pass on climate altogether? No way!" Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told Insider. "Think I'm blunt enough? No way."
Opinion: America's tax system is rigged to protect the rich and powerful .
Jeffrey Sachs writes the US tax system is designed to protect wealthy individuals and powerful corporations, and it is breaking the country in more ways than one. Much of the Republican Party lives and breathes to protect the rich and powerful from paying taxes, and Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia too often side with them. Meanwhile, public opinion -- strongly supporting higher taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations -- counts for little because the rich have undue influence over the political class. © Getty Images But the severity of the problem cannot be overstated.