Speaking after the release of a modest May jobs report, Biden defended his strong investment package to propel the economy beyond the Covid-19 crisis and recession and into a new era.
“Now is the time to build on the progress we have made,” Biden told reporters from Rehoboth Beach, Maryland. “We need to make those investments today to continue to be successful tomorrow.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has indicated that Biden will seek to act without Republican support if there is no consensus when Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess.
While Biden and Republican senators have narrowed the price gap between their initial $ 2.3 trillion proposal and the GOP’s initial $ 568 billion offer, they remain widely separated on how to pay for what could be an investment. $ 1 trillion commitment.
Republicans are showing no interest in Biden’s latest proposal for a minimum corporate tax rate of 15% that would ensure that all businesses pay something in taxes, rather than allowing so many write-offs or deductions that contribute zero to the treasury.
A Republican familiar with the talks and granted anonymity to discuss the private assessment said Republican senators view Biden’s latest idea as an unnecessary tax increase.
Instead, Republicans led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito are set to present a revised offer when he speaks with Biden again on Friday, the person said. They will insist on using untapped Covid-19 relief funds to pay for infrastructure investments, the Republican said. Biden’s team has rejected that approach.
Still, neither Biden nor the Republican senators appear to be willing to suspend the talks, even as Democrats prepare the ground to use budget rules to pass any major packages on their own, without Republican votes.
On Friday, House Democrats released a plan to spend $ 547 billion over the next five years on highway, mass transit and rail projects, a blueprint of their priorities, and a potential pillar for Biden’s broader package. .
The proposal by Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democratic chairman of the House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, continues existing programs that will expire and adds key pieces of the broader measure that Biden is negotiating with Republicans.
DeFazio’s legislation, a reauthorization of surface transportation programs that expire Sept. 30, does not address how to pay for projects. He called the effort a “once in a generation opportunity to move our transportation planning out of the 1950s and into our clean energy future.”
In addition to Biden’s proposal for a 15% minimum tax for corporations (there is now no minimum corporate income tax), it provides for additional income from increased IRS enforcement. You are looking for approximately $ 1 trillion in new infrastructure spending. Senate Republicans have responded with just $ 257 billion in additional spending.
The House bill would authorize up to $ 343 billion for roads, bridges and safety improvements. Another $ 109 billion would go to public transportation programs and $ 95 billion to the freight and passenger rail system, including tripling funding for Amtrak.
DeFazio’s bill is not expected to attract much Republican support, as Republicans recently unveiled their own legislation that would authorize about $ 400 billion over five years for highway, bridge and transit programs.
Republicans on the House panel criticized the bill in a statement. “Instead of working with Republicans to find common ground on a bill that could garner strong bipartisan support, something our Senate counterparts did successfully last month, this bill moves even further to the left. to appease the more progressive members of the Majority Party. ”
A Senate panel recently approved their version of the highway bill unanimously, but lawmakers had yet to vote on how they would pay, a focal point of negotiations between Republican senators and the White House.
Business groups like the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have called on lawmakers to continue negotiations and work toward a bipartisan compromise.
But some Democrats have questioned the merits of that approach and are already unhappy with some of the compromises Biden has offered. They support the use of a process that would allow Democrats to pass a simple majority infrastructure push, which they did through a Covid-19 relief measure that delivered payments of $ 1,400 to most Americans.
“You don’t need Republicans to step in. Get the American people back together,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman, DN.Y., said Thursday night.