Politics Senators eye $579B in new infrastructure spending, $1T plan
Where do infrastructure talks go from here now that Biden's negotiations with Republicans collapsed?
As new infrastructure talks begin, old differences with Republicans have already emerged.Weeks of negotiations resulted in little headway, with major differences on costs and taxes going unreconciled. Republicans accused the president of changing his demands and being unwilling to compromise on his insistence on "social infrastructure" while the White House said the Republicans' offers didn't meet America's needs.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of senators is eyeing anwith $579 billion in new spending as part of a $1 trillion package. It could be rolled out as soon as Thursday as negotiators try to strike a deal on President Joe Biden's top priority, according to those briefed on the plan.
The 10 senators have been huddling behind closed doors, encouraged by Biden to keep working on the effort after he walked away from a Republican-only proposal this week unable to resolve differences. The senators are briefing their colleagues privately and cautioned changes could still be made.
Progressive groups are “fed up” with Biden’s infrastructure playbook
Progressives want Biden to stop negotiating with Republicans and embrace budget reconciliation.Progressive groups, who cheered Biden passing his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus bill through Congress with only Democratic support early on, are growing increasingly frustrated over Biden’s prolonged infrastructure negotiations with Senate Republicans.
“We got a piece of paper with every line and a total,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters at the Capitol. He declined to provide further details. “Can be adjusted and changed? Sure.”
The president and Congress have been straining to reach an agreement on his ideas for an infrastructure investment, stuck over the scope of the package of road, highway and other projects and how to pay for it.
At that size, the new package spread over five years would be more than the previous Republican-only effort of $330 billion in new spending in a $928 billion package, but still short of the $1.7 trillion over eight years Biden is seeking. It appears the group is running into the same problems that Biden and lead Republican negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito confronted in agreeing on how to pay for it.
America needs private investment — not public infrastructure
The American economy would be better off if the whole deal was scrapped and more avenues for greater private investment in infrastructure were created while increasing our overall economic freedom by cutting taxes and lowering spending. Benjamin Powell, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute, Oakland, Calif., is director of the Free Market Institute and a professor of economics at Texas Tech University.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., a lead negotiator, would not disclose the final tab. Asked if the new spending was at $600 billion, he said “the president said that was his goal. So I don’t think anybody felt like they had to exceed his goal.”
Another member of the group, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said they are “fairly close” on a topline amount, but are still debating how to pay for it. One option is to include potential revenue from uncollected income taxes, he said.
“We still have to talk,” Tester said.
One Republican not in the group, Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, said he was told the package would provide nearly $1 trillion — including $579 billion in new spending over the baseline for transportation projects.
Braun also said parts of it would be paid for with untapped COVID-19 relief funds, which has been a nonstarter for the White House.
Impatient Democrats prepare to go-it-alone on infrastructure
WASHINGTON (AP) — Patience running thin, Democratic leaders are laying the groundwork for a go-it-alone approach on President Joe Biden's big jobs and families infrastructure plans even as the White House continues negotiating with Republicans on a much more scaled-back $1 trillion proposal. A top White House adviser assured House Democrats during a closed-door session Tuesday that there would be a fresh assessment by next week on where talks stand with the Republicans.
“They have come up with similar to what I think Capito was working on, but my understanding is it would be a little more money,” he said.
Biden tasked the senators to keep working as he set out for his first overseas trip after talks collapsed this week with Capito and the GOP senators.
The president is seeking a sweeping investment in not just roads, highways and bridges but also broadband, electric vehicle charging stations and other aspects of what he views as the new economy, all paid for with a hike in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
Republicans prefer a more narrow focus on fixing existing transportation systems, with more modest investments elsewhere. They oppose any tax hikes to pay for the new spending.
With the Senate narrowly split, 50-50, and most legislation requiring 60 votes to advance past a filibuster, Biden is seeking a bipartisan agreement to ensure passage. At the same time, he is also instructing Democrats who control the House and Senate to prepare to pass portions of the package on their own, under special budget rules that enable approval with 51 votes in the Senate.
Is the infrastructure bill a bridge too far?
The bottom line is the fate of the infrastructure bill will determine whether any part of Biden’s agenda can be passed with bipartisan support. While President Biden has demonstrated flexibility in paring down proposed spending, the gulf between the two parties may be irreconcilable. If so, it would signal that policy gridlock is still business as usual in Washington, D.C.Nicholas Sargen, Ph.D., is an economic consultant and is affiliated with the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. He is the author of "Investing in the Trump Era; How Economic Policies Impact Financial Markets.
In the evenly-divided Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote.
After 1st round fails, where do infrastructure talks stand? .
Almost as soon as infrastructure talks died, they were resurrected under new leadership. © Samuel Corum/Getty Images While President Joe Biden jets off to Europe to attend to international matters, a coalition of Senate Democrats and Republicans are huddled up at the Capitol charting what they hope will be a new path forward on infrastructure. New negotiations bring a whole new host of questions about how a deal on what has become a politically divisive package might be struck and what that deal might look like. Wait. Aren't infrastructure talks over? Think again.