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President Joe Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito during a May 13 meeting. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Infrastructure negotiations between President Biden and a group of Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) have officially broken down, and Biden now plans to turn his attention toward striking a deal with a separate, bipartisan group of senators, administration officials said Tuesday night.

What we're hearing: When Biden and Capito spoke by phone on Tuesday, the call only lasted a few minutes, and it was clear that the two sides remain too far apart to find a compromise.

  • The two parties still hadn't agreed on how to define what constitutes infrastructure, let alone set a price tag or way to pay for it.

What they're saying: Biden "informed Sen. Capito today that the latest offer from her group did not, in his view, meet the essential needs of our country," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

  • "He offered his gratitude to her for her efforts and good faith conversations, but expressed his disappointment that, while he was willing to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, the Republican group had increased their proposed new investments by only $150 billion."
  • “While I appreciate President Biden’s willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept the very robust and targeted infrastructure package, and instead, end our discussions," Capito said.

Timing: The Biden administration made clear they saw this week was the deadline for real progress on a deal with Capito and other GOP senators.

  • Now he will focus on engaging the "G20" group of Democratic and Republican senators, led by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
  • That group has floated a larger, $900 billion infrastructure proposal focused on roads, bridges and other traditional projects.
  • Psaki said that Biden spoke with Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Sinema and Manchin today, and told the group he would continue to contact them by phone while in Europe over the next week.
  • Biden also designated his Jobs Cabinet and White House aides Steve Ricchetti, Louisa Terrell and Brian Deese to meet with them in person, Psaki added.

Of note: The issue of how to pay for the package remains the major stumbling block.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that Democrats are working on a reconciliation bill as a backup plan in case talks fall through.
  • He added that he plans to move forward with an infrastructure bill in the Senate in July, whether a deal between the two sides is reached or not.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Sep 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden vows to "deal everyone in" as Nobel laureates back economic plan

President Biden talks infrastructure at the Flatirons campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Arvanda, Colo., on Tuesday. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

In East Room remarks Thursday afternoon on leveling the economic playing field, President Biden will argue that his Build Back Better plan will "deal everyone in."

What to watch: A White House official tells me that Biden will argue that the nation has reached an inflection point — whether or not to perpetuate an economy where the wealthiest taxpayers and biggest corporations play by a set of rules they’ve written for themselves.

Sep 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats plot debt-limit options

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer leave the U.S. Capitol this week. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are working on a short-term funding bill — which needs to pass before Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown — that includes a debt-limit increase.

Why it matters: The country will default on its debt in October for the first time in U.S. history if Congress doesn't increase the federal debt limit. Republicans and Democrats have entered a standoff — daring the other side to blink.

Sep 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The debt ceiling stare down

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congress is fast approaching its deadline to raise the debt ceiling or risk defaulting on the nation's debt, and, as of now, there's no serious plan to stave off what many members are calling the worst-case scenario.

Why it matters: The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt. If Congress doesn't take "extraordinary measures" to finance the government, it would "likely cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned last week.