Apr 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans unveil $568 billion infrastructure counterproposal

Senators Barasso and Capito
Sens. John Barasso and Shelley Moore Capito. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans formally rolled out the framework for their $568 billion counterproposal to President Biden's $2.5 trillion infrastructure plan on Thursday.

Why it matters: The package is far narrower than anything congressional Democrats or the White House would agree to, but it serves as a marker for what Republicans want out of a potential bipartisan deal.

Between the lines: Biden insists he wants his "American Jobs Plan" to pass with bipartisan votes and go through regular order in the Senate, meaning it would need at least 10 GOP senators to sign on.

  • The administration has invited a number of Republican lawmakers to the White House over the past several weeks in a sign of sincerity of Biden's pledge.
  • But even without Republican support, Biden and the Democratic-controlled Senate could opt to pass the bill via the budget reconciliation process, which would only require a simple majority vote. Having this tool at their disposal has made many Republicans wary of whether Biden will stay committed to his pledge of reaching across the aisle.
  • So a group of Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, crafted a scaled-down infrastructure plan that they argue could pass with bipartisan support.
  • Other Senate co-sponsors include Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

What they're saying: "A billion dollars is a lot of money," Wicker said at a press conference unveiling the framework. "$568 billion is a very, very generous offer in dealing with infrastructure."

Details: The Republicans' package focuses on the elements in the first part of Biden's Build Back Better agenda — building up America's roads, bridges, airports and ports, or what the GOP calls "traditional" infrastructure.

  • It also includes provisions on expanded broadband, particularly in rural areas, and building up water infrastructure.
  • The GOP framework calls for the government to fully cover the cost of the bill "to avoid increasing the debt."
  • Republican senators argue the bill should repurpose some of the $350 billion sent out to state and local governments in the "American Rescue Plan," as well as encourage private sector investment to help pay for the package.

What's absent: The parts of Biden's bill that Republicans largely consider a "progressive wishlist" — including provisions meant to tackle climate change and promote racial equality.

  • The bill insists on preserving former President Trump's "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," rather than passing Biden's plan to raise taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year.
  • That includes preserving the 21% corporate tax rate, which Biden has proposed raising to 28% to help pay for the bill, and demanding the cap on the state and local tax deduction (SALT) remain unchanged.

By the numbers:

  • $299B for roads and bridges
  • $61B for public transit
  • $65B for broadband infrastructure
  • $44B for airports
  • $35B for drinking water and wastewater
  • $20B for rail systems
  • $13B for safety
  • $17B ports and inland waters
  • $14B for water storage

Go deeper: Read the GOP framework.

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