President Joe Biden on Tuesday shut down talks with Republican West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who spent weeks negotiating with his administration to reach a bipartisan agreement on an infrastructure package for the nation.
The president has now shifted gears, meeting with a separate bipartisan group comprised of 20 senators, in hopes of reaching a deal more aligned with the higher spending priorities of his administration.
What are the details?
Following news of the breakdown in talks, Capito told ABC News, “We had a robust package that we could’ve made work and I think I could’ve gotten 20-25 [Republicans] to go with me…and they moved the goal posts on me a couple of times and they just decided to walk away.” When asked what happens now, Capito replied, “You’ll have to ask him.”
The Associated Press reported that “Capito had suggested around a $50 billion boost above the previous Republican offer of $928 billion, the White House said, still leaving the GOP well short of the $1.7 trillion that Biden is seeking.”
On Capito, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement, “The President expressed his gratitude for her effort and goodwill, but also indicated that the current offer did not meet his objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis, and create new jobs.”
Psaki added, “”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.”
According to Axios, Biden is now focused on negotiating with the “G20” bipartisan group of senators, which is led by Republican Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Mitt Romney (Utah), and Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is strategizing on how to get the Biden administration’s full infrastructure priorities through the divided 50-50 upper chamber — whether a deal is reached with the “G20” or not.
The Washington Post reported that “Schumer said Democrats are getting to work on a reconciliation package that might only need support from Democrats, acknowledging that their party is unlikely to accomplish everything they hope in a bill crafted alongside the GOP.”
“It may well be part of the bill that’ll pass will be bipartisan, and part of it will be through reconciliation,” Schumer told the outlet. “But we’re not going to sacrifice the bigness and boldness in this bill.”
Republicans and Democrats have been at odds over what truly constitutes as infrastructure ever since the emergence of Biden’s plan, which includes funding for caretakers and other social spending beyond brick and mortar traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted Tuesday, “It’s not enough to fix the roads and bridges we have. We’ve got to invest in transit, [electric vehicles], and bike infrastructure to prepare for the future and meet our climate goals.”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R) told his own followers, “Roads, bridges, transit, rail, airports, ports, and broadband. This is real infrastructure, and it’s in the Republican Plan that Biden just axed. No partisan wish lists, just funding for REAL infrastructure.”
Scott added, “Biden’s plan is not about infrastructure. It is a job-killing $2 trillion tax hike.”