President Joe Biden has been laying out his proposal for a massive infrastructure spending plan in recent months, signaling a desire to reach a bipartisan agreement on its size and scope.
As recent reports suggest, however, he is no longer interested in dealing with Senate Republicans on the matter.
Differences of opinion
Shortly before departing on his first European trip as president, he confirmed that he had cut off negotiations with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the top Republican involved in the talks.
At the crux of the stalemate were disagreements over how much the package should cost and how it would be funded. Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in an ongoing dispute over what the definition of infrastructure actually is.
The GOP indicated it would accept a proposal targeted at specific improvements to roads, bridges, and the nation’s power grid. Democrats favored a softer view of infrastructure and included funding for childcare and health services.
After Democrats rejected the first Republican offer, Capito brought forward a new offer last week with a price tag of roughly $928 billion.
Though that number is much closer to the lowest offer put forth by the Democrats, it called for using money from previous bills including COVID-19 relief spending.
“To restore our roads and bridges”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the GOP offer did not “meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs.”
As the Associated Press noted, the Democratic Party’s offer of a $1.7 trillion package is still significantly costlier than anything the Republicans have shown a willingness to support.
Despite the setback in negotiations, there is reportedly already a new bipartisan group aimed at hashing out the issue even further.
A group of 10 senators — five from each party — gathered for an informal session, according to the AP.
Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are reportedly involved in the talks, as is Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). It remains to be seen whether the latest effort will result in real progress, but the news means that Americans hoping for a bipartisan agreement still have some hope left.