Senate GOP pans Biden infrastructure plan, preps new offer

Senate Republicans on Friday panned President Biden’s latest infrastructure proposal and were expected to make a revised offer as talks grind toward next week’s slipping deadline for progress on a bipartisan deal.

Speaking after the release of a modest May jobs report, Biden made the case for his robust investment package to push the economy past the COVID-19 crisis and downturn, and into a new era.

“Now is the time to build on the progress we’ve made,” Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Del. “We need to make those investments today to continue to succeed tomorrow.”

Biden was talking again Friday with the lead GOP negotiator, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, in what the White House characterized as a discussion rather than an exchange of formal proposals.

Capito’s office released a statement with few details except to say the two spoke by telephone on a bipartisan infrastructure package and “agreed to connect again on Monday.”

The White House had been eyeing a deadline early next week as Congress returns from its Memorial Day break to see progress toward a deal and Democrats are setting ground work for a go-it-alone approach. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has indicated that Biden will look to act without Republican support if there is no consensus.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki downplayed any hard-set deadline Friday and said the administration continues to talk to lawmakers from both parties, giving a nod to a group of bipartisan senators who are privately working on possible areas of compromise with the White House.

“There’s runway left,” Psaki told reporters at the White House. “We’re going to keep a range of pathways open.”

For weeks, the president has been engaged in talks with GOP senators trying to strike a compromise on Biden’s top legislative priority, the big infrastructure investment package. While the two sides appear to have narrowed the price gap between his initial $2.3 trillion proposal and the GOP’s $568 billion opening bid, they remain far apart on how to pay for what could be a compromise $1 trillion investment.

Republicans are showing no interest in Biden’s latest proposal for a 15% corporate minimum tax rate that would ensure all companies pay something in taxes, rather than allowing so many write-offs or deductions that they contribute zero to the treasury.

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