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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.

Go deeper

Sep 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The GOP's Afghanistan message machine

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republicans in Congress have begun coordinating their attacks on Afghanistan, with new plans to try to harness unease about the U.S. withdrawal in order to regain power in 2022.

Why it matters: President Biden's poll numbers have fallen as the Afghanistan exit was engulfed by chaos and tragedy. Now, Republicans are seizing the moment in hopes of making it a defining issue ahead of the midterms.

Sep 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

First look: White House seeks to coordinate debt-ceiling message

White House slide for congressional briefing about debt increase, obtained by Axios.

Biden administration officials are briefing senior Democratic Senate aides about why Congress needs to raise or suspend the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: By coordinating its message with Congress, the White House is trying to ensure Democrats stay unified on a simple argument: that 97% of the $28.7 trillion national debt was incurred before President Biden assumed office.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.