July 5, 2022

Biden to GOP: ‘Don’t Get in the Way’ of Infrastructure Plan | Voice of America

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Thursday warned naysayers in Congress not to “get in the way” of his big infrastructure plans as the White House panned a counteroffer from Republican senators to tap unused COVID-19 relief for a more modest investment in roads, highways and other traditional public works projects.

After touring a manufacturing technology center at a community college in Cleveland, Biden held up a card with the names of Republican lawmakers who had rejected his coronavirus aid bill in Washington but later promoted its assistance when they were back home in front of voters. He warned them not to play similar games as he pushes this next legislative priority in Congress.

“I’m not going to embarrass anyone, but I have here a list,” he said. “If you’re going to take credit for what we’ve done,” he continued, “don’t get in the way of what we need to do.”

The political arguments over Biden’s ambitious proposals are quickly distilling into a debate over the size and scope of what all sides agree are sorely needed upgrades to the nation’s aging and outmoded infrastructure.

Republican counteroffer

As the president reaches for a soaring legislative achievement with his $1.7 trillion American Jobs Plan and a separate $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, he is assessing whether he can cut a bipartisan deal with Republicans or will have to push through his proposals with only Democratic votes.

Republican senators outlined a $928 billion infrastructure proposal Thursday as a counteroffer to Biden, drawing a fresh red line against his plans raise the corporate tax, from 21% to 28%, to pay for new spending. Instead, the Republicans want to shift unspent COVID-19 relief dollars to help cover the costs, a nonstarter for many Democrats.

The Republican senators said their offer, raised from an initial $568 billion, delivers on “core infrastructure investments” that Biden has focused on as areas of potential agreement. With about $250 billion in new spending, the GOP plan remains far from the president’s approach. Biden reduced his $2.3 trillion opening bid to $1.7 trillion in earlier negotiations.

“It’s a serious effort to try to reach a bipartisan agreement,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the lead Republican negotiator.

As Biden left for Ohio, he said he called Capito to thank her for the proposal, but told her, “We have to finish this really soon.”

‘Not looking to punish anyone’

Biden toured Cuyahoga Community College, the same school where he was to hold a campaign rally in March 2020 only to have it be the first one canceled due to the pandemic. He cast his return as a symbol of how far the nation has come back, and he tried to make the case that passing his jobs and families plans would further the economy’s recovery and prepare it for the decades ahead.

The president said he was “not looking to punish anyone” with his tax plans. But said it was time for America’s wealthy and corporations to help invest in the nation’s future.

“Do you want to give the wealthiest people in America another tax cut? I don’t begrudge them the money they make. Just start paying your fair share just a little bit,” Biden said.

Talks are at a crossroads before a Memorial Day deadline to make progress toward a bipartisan deal. With slim majorities in the House and Senate, the Democratic president faces other hurdles if he decides to abandon talks with Republicans and tries to unite fractious Democrats.

The Republican offer would increase spending by $91 billion on roads and bridges, $48 billion on water resources and $25 billion on airports, according to a one-page summary released by the GOP negotiators. It would provide for one-time increases in broadband investments, at $65 billion, and $22 billion on rail.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on CNBC that it was time for the administration to “sober up and realize they don’t have a massive mandate in Congress to do all of the things they’re trying to do.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden and Capito are expected to meet next week, while Congress is on a break.

The White House is also “continuing to explore other proposals that we hope will emerge” she said. A bipartisan group of lawmakers that includes Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is also preparing an alternative plan.

Psaki made clear the administration’s concern over tapping pandemic funds. “We are worried that major cuts in COVID relief funds could imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals using this money to get back on their feet after the crush of the pandemic,” Psaki said in a statement.

Defining infrastructure

Core differences remain between the White House and GOP negotiators over the definition of infrastructure: Republicans stick to traditional investments in roads, bridges, ports and water drinking systems, while Biden takes a more expansive view.

Under Biden’s initial proposal, there is more than $300 billion for substantial upgrades to public schools, Veterans Administration hospitals and affordable housing, along with $25 billion for new and renovated child care centers.

Biden’s proposal would spend heavily on efforts to confront climate change, with $174 billion to spur the electric vehicle market, in part by developing charging stations, and $50 billion so communities can better deal with floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters.

One area of agreement is on boosting broadband, but the sides are apart on details. Republicans raised their initial offer to $65 billion in an earlier exchange; Biden is seeking $100 billion.

in U.S.
Related Posts

Florida Building Collapse Search & Rescue Operations Enter 6th Day | Voice of America

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

Search-and-rescue operations entered day six Tuesday in the rubble of the partially collapsed apartment building in Surfside, Florida. “We have people...

UN Chief Urges US to Lift Sanctions on Iran | Voice of America

June 30, 2021

June 30, 2021

The U.N. secretary-general has called on the United States to lift its sanctions on Iran and for both countries to...

How Biden’s $6 Trillion Budget Sidesteps Campaign Pledges | Voice of America

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

WASHINGTON – When Democrat Joe Biden ran for vice president in 2008, he delivered a speech in which he repeated...

Trump Shuts Down Blog, Nearly Erasing Online Presence | Voice of America

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

With his online presence all but obliterated since leaving office in January, former U.S. President Donald Trump has permanently shut...

Former US Ambassador Bill Richardson Heads to Myanmar

November 1, 2021

November 1, 2021

Former U.S. ambassador and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is heading to Myanmar on a private humanitarian mission that...

US to Investigate Government-run Native American Boarding Schools | Voice of America

June 23, 2021

June 23, 2021

U.S. Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland said her department is launching an investigation into the more-than-150-year history of government-run American...

US Supreme Court Seeks Biden Views on Harvard Admissions Dispute | Voice of America

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked President Joe Biden’s administration to give its views on whether the...

The Unanswered ‘Jeopardy!’ Question: Who’s the New Host? | Voice of America

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

LOS ANGELES – Jeopardy! needed a host, and Lucille Ball had an enthusiastic suggestion for creator Merv Griffin: The smooth-voiced,...

US Capitol, Symbol of Democracy, Off-limits on Independence Day | Voice of America

July 4, 2021

July 4, 2021

WASHINGTON – As it has been for nearly 16 months, longer than any time in the nation’s history, the U.S....

G-20 Ministers to Discuss Coronavirus, Climate Change, Development in Africa | Voice of America

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

The coronavirus, climate change and food security are on the agenda Tuesday as foreign ministers from the G-20 group of...

Florida Governor Announces Start of Python Challenge | Voice of America

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

Florida’s governor has announced the start of Python Challenge in Everglades National Park. The python removal will start July 9...

US to Offer Alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative | Voice of America

June 12, 2021

June 12, 2021

PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND – U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration said it will announce an infrastructure financing mechanism for low- and middle-income...

N. Korea Gives Mixed Messages on Talks with US | Voice of America

June 22, 2021

June 22, 2021

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – North Korea on Tuesday downplayed the possibility of talks with the United States, several days after...

Climate-Related Drought Disasters Threaten Development, UN Warns | Voice of America

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

GENEVA – The United Nations warns accelerating climate change is causing a dramatic intensification of global drought disasters, which are...

US Congressman Describes Lingering Mental Trauma After January 6 Capitol Attack | Voice of America

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

Images of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are seared into many Americans’ minds and remain especially vivid...