Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 75° Clear
News >  Nation/World

Biden invites GOP senator as infrastructure deadline looms

UPDATED: Tue., June 1, 2021

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, May 27, 2021, as from left, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Sen. Barrasso, R-Wy. and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., look on. Republican senators outlined a $928 billion infrastructure proposal Thursday, a counteroffer to President Joe Biden's more sweeping plan as the two sides struggle to negotiate a bipartisan compromise and remain far apart on how to pay for the massive spending.  (J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, May 27, 2021, as from left, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Sen. Barrasso, R-Wy. and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., look on. Republican senators outlined a $928 billion infrastructure proposal Thursday, a counteroffer to President Joe Biden's more sweeping plan as the two sides struggle to negotiate a bipartisan compromise and remain far apart on how to pay for the massive spending. (J. Scott Applewhite)
By Lisa Mascaro Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is set to meet Wednesday with West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the top Republican negotiator on infrastructure as the administration signals time is running out to strike a bipartisan deal on the White House’s big investment proposal and top legislative priority.

The president is looking forward to hosting Capito, a White House official said, speaking ahead of the afternoon session on condition of anonymity. The official said the two will continue bipartisan negotiations. The administration’s deadline for a deal is June. 7.

In the latest round of talks, Biden and a core group of GOP senators appear to have pulled farther apart as they try to narrow the gap between the president’s more sweeping initial ideas for a massive investment and a GOP approach that is more focused approach on traditional infrastructure projects.

Biden’s own thinking is that the Republican proposal, now $928 billion, is unworkable because the Republicans want to tap unspent COVID-19 funds to pay for the spending.

The White House has pared back the president’s initial $2.3 trillion bid, now tallied at $1.7 trillion, with Biden proposing to raise the corporate tax rate, from 21% to 28% to pay for it.

“I think we can get to real compromise, absolutely, because we’re both still in the game,” Capito said over the weekend. “I think the president told me himself that let’s get this done.”

Congress is away for a weeklong Memorial Day break, but faces a deadline when lawmakers return next week.

Without a bipartisan agreement, Biden will be faced with trying to muscle support from Democrats alone. That approach also poses political challenges in the narrowly divided House and Senate where the administration has few votes to spare if the president tries to push the package to passage under budget rules that allow for a majority vote.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Sunday by they time Congress resumes, June 7, “we need a clear direction.”

The White House said the president is also eyeing action in the House that week when the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is set to begin debating a big highway reauthorization bill that is being closely watched as a potential building block toward the broader package.

Buttigieg said, “The president keeps saying inaction is not an option. And time is not unlimited here.” He said the American people “expect us to do something.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.