May 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP's latest infrastructure counteroffer to cost roughly $1 trillion

Lawmakers at a podium.

Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito Roger Wicke and John Barrasso. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A group of GOP senators negotiating on infrastructure is preparing a $1 trillion counteroffer for the White House this week, a key leader said, far closer to President Biden’s target than previous overtures.

Why it matters: Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) signaled that Republicans will be moving in a big way toward the Biden administration's plan, reigniting hopes that a bipartisan deal is possible.

  • This comes as talks fell apart late last week and over the weekend, as the two sides seemed as far apart as ever on a potential agreement.

What they're saying: "We're not going to disturb the 2017 tax bill, which was the best economy of my lifetime," Wicker said. "We're going to make it eight years, as the President said he would accept. We're going to hit a figure, very close to what the President said he would accept."

  • "It will end up being the most substantial infrastructure bill ever enacted by the federal government. And if the president gets to make the decision, he will accept this."
  • He then confirmed the price tag of the GOP proposal will be "close to a trillion dollars."
  • Wicker also cited Larry Summers, who has been raising alarms about inflation, and said the Republican counter will suggest repurposing money appropriated to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), the top Republican on the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, told Axios that she and other Republicans "talked a lot about repurposed money, but we never got a response from the administration on that."
  • She added that she thinks there's enough money leftover from coronavirus spending to account for a $1 trillion bill.

One big thing: Wicker also said there will be "hardly anything" on user fees — a sticking point among Democrats who don't want to raise user fees in order to pay for the bill.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, responding to Wicker's comments, told reporters Tuesday: "Certainly, them coming up on the number is progress."

What to watch: Wicker also said that he and other GOP negotiators have been "a little bit concerned" that their previous suggestions on a bill have been "mischaracterized" by White House staff in press releases.

  • "This is going to be the end of our rope," Wicker said.

Timing: Capito told reporters Republicans plan to present their counter offer to the White House on Thursday morning.

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