U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) praises the legislative achievements of Senate Democrats as he holds a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 25, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Swimming pool | Reuters
Senate Democrats plan to move forward with developing a vast infrastructure package next month – whether Republicans participate or not – as they push for a bill this summer.
Senators will be leaving Washington next week for the Memorial Day recess. When lawmakers return, Democrats aim to craft an infrastructure plan that spans everything from transport and broadband, to utilities and job training.
“As the president continues to discuss infrastructure legislation with Senate Republicans, committees will hold hearings and continue work on the Build Back Better program – with or without the support of Republican senators,” the leader said. Senate majority Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., wrote in a letter to Democrats on Friday. “We need to pass comprehensive jobs and infrastructure legislation this summer.”
President Joe Biden has been working with Republicans in the Senate to see if they can strike a bipartisan deal to overhaul America’s infrastructure. After the latest back and forth in their talks, the parties seem far from agreeing on what should be included in a bill and how the government should pay for it.
As the White House and Republicans struggle to reach consensus, some Democrats have called on their party to try to pass a bill without GOP support. Democrats can do this through the budget reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority vote in an equally divided Senate.
Republicans sent Biden a $ 928 billion infrastructure counter-offer on Thursday. It came to about half of the $ 1.7 trillion proposal the White House last sent to the GOP. The Biden administration first presented a $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.
Responding to the offer, White House press secretary Jen Psaki praised the “constructive” additions to spending on roads, bridges and rail. She said the White House “remains concerned” about Republicans’ proposed spending for railroad upgrades and the transition to clean energy, as well as party calls to pay for infrastructure with relief funds against it. previously passed coronaviruses.
The White House has said it expects almost all of the aid money to be spent. The reorientation of funds could jeopardize support for small businesses and hospitals, Psaki said.
Despite the persistent differences, the parties expect to continue talks. Biden could meet again with Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican from West Virginia leading negotiations with the White House, as early as next week.
The parties will have to overcome two huge disagreements to reach an agreement. First, they have disparate views of what matters as infrastructure.
The White House wants to include programs like caring for elderly and disabled Americans, which it calls vital to getting Americans back to work and boosting the economy. Republicans want to limit legislation to areas such as transportation, broadband and water.
Biden and the Republicans could also struggle to find a compromise on how to pay for the infrastructure plan. The president wants to raise the corporate tax rate to at least 25% – and crack down on corporate tax evasion abroad and underpayment of personal income tax at home – to offset the expenses.
The GOP has said it will not support changes to its 2017 tax cuts as part of an infrastructure bill. The party reduced the corporate rate from 35% to 21%.
It’s unclear how much longer talks will go on if Democrats and Republicans can’t strike a deal. On Thursday, Capito said Republicans “continue to negotiate in good faith.”
In his letter, Schumer noted that he was “encouraged” by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, which this week was pushing forward a bipartisan land transportation bill of about $ 300 billion.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who previously said he would work to fight Biden’s broader economic agenda, said Thursday his party would continue to engage with the president.
“We would like to get a result on an important infrastructure package,” he told CNBC.
Democrats passed Biden’s first major bill, a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, without a Republican vote in March.
Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.