WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of 10 senators is trying to build support for a new infrastructure plan to revitalize roads and bridges in the United States without raising taxes, three lawmakers said Wednesday, a day after President Joe Biden rejected a proposal. separate republican.
Renewing America’s infrastructure is a high priority for Biden, but his proposal has run into trouble in a Congress controlled limited by his fellow Democrats, making Republican support critical.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney told reporters that members of the group have reached “tentative conclusions” about their plan. It is expected to total almost $ 900 billion. Biden had been pushing for a much higher figure, initially $ 2.3 trillion, but later narrowed to $ 1.7 trillion.
“We are not raising taxes,” Romney told reporters. “We are going to talk to other members to see if this can get enough support for it to have the votes it needs to be successful.”
The group includes Republicans Romney, Rob Portman, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Democrats Kyrsten Sinema, Jon Tester, Joe Manchin, Mark Warner and Jeanne Shaheen.
“Taxes would be a big mistake and I think the Biden administration understands that,” Portman said.
Biden has proposed raising taxes on US corporations to help fund a comprehensive package that would address traditional infrastructure projects, as well as social and climate change programs. Republicans have shown no interest in tax increases, having strongly backed a 2017 tax cuts law signed by former President Donald Trump.
Tester said he would be willing to consider financing an infrastructure plan without raising taxes.
“I’d consider it for sure,” Tester said. “I think there are loads of money out there, hopefully not all of them are smoke and mirrors.”
Romney and Portman said group members have not set a full amount of infrastructure spending and declined to discuss specific provisions that would follow.
“If we receive good support, when we receive it, that’s when we talk about it, we bring it up. If we don’t get the support, then it will be shut down, ”Romney said.
Portman said the group is seeking funding mechanisms for its proposal that could meet Democratic resistance, including unspecified user fees and tapping funds for unemployment payments related to the COVID-19 pandemic to people that some states have returned to the Treasury. from the USA
“I think the White House is interested in talking to us about the appropriate ways to look at some of the COVID funds that are being sent,” Portman said.
Cassidy said she spoke with Biden by phone Tuesday to discuss the infrastructure.
Most of the legislation requires 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to advance. The Senate is split 50-50, with Democrats in control because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tiebreaker vote.
Biden broke off talks Tuesday with Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who had led a six-member Republican team that included party leaders and top members of relevant Senate committees.
Capito had offered Biden $ 330 billion in new infrastructure spending, well below what he was looking for.
The 10 senators now working on a new plan are part of a larger 20-member bipartisan group known as the G-20, which includes Capito. Portman said he would continue to work closely with Capito and his team.
(Reporting by David Morgan; additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; editing by Scott Malone and Chizu Nomiyama)