May 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP senators hint they're looking for infrastructure deal

Capito and GOP senators on infrastructure

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, left, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on May 27. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Key Senate Republicans in talks with the White House to negotiate down the administration's trillion-dollar infrastructure package indicated this weekend that they are still looking for a deal.

Why it matters: The White House recently proposed a $1.7 trillion counteroffer to GOP calls to cut spending — below the original $2 trillion price tag, but still too high for Republican negotiators.

  • Democratic leaders could pass Biden's infrastructure plan on a party-line basis, but "the discussions between Biden and GOP senators represent one of the president’s best hopes for a bipartisan policy achievement," the Washington Post reported.

What to watch: Biden is eyeing June 9 when the surface transportation bill that forms a pillar of the administration's infrastructure plan will be brought up for a vote by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, per the Post.

  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN on Sunday that negotiations "need a clear direction" by June 7, when members return from recess.

What they're saying: Key GOP members representing their party in White House negotiations complimented the president's approach when speaking with the Post.

  • “I have had opportunities and dealings with him over the years, and he’s a straight shooter,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). “If he gives you his commitment, you can count on it.”
  • "I think it stems from his, kind of, innate Senate negotiating skills,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). The senator, who said she'd spoken by phone with Biden earlier in the week, told Fox News Sunday: "I think we can get to real compromise, absolutely, because we're both still in the game."
  • “I don’t want this to get into a ‘Biden doesn’t know what he’s doing.’ He totally understands,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “All of his training is as a senator who understands the importance of finding a place where everybody can be moving forward.”
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