United States President Joe Biden speaks to reporters on his departure from the White House in Washington, USA, on May 25, 2021.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The White House responded to the latest Senate Republican offer for an infrastructure deal on Thursday. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the additions "constructive" but said the government remains "concerned" about how Republicans are going to pay for them.
"We are seeing some constructive additions to the group's earlier proposals, including roads, bridges and rails," Psaki said in a statement shortly after Republicans unveiled their latest proposal.
"At the same time, we remain concerned that their plan still does not provide significant new funding for critical job creation needs," she said.
"Finally, we are concerned that the proposal to pay for the plan remains unclear: we fear major cuts in COVID aid funds could jeopardize upcoming aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals that are using that money to get back on track Legs to come after the pandemic outbreak. "
Psaki said the president was looking forward to receiving more details from Republicans and she promised that the White House would work with members of the House and Senate next week.
Senate Republicans unveiled their $ 928 billion infrastructure counteroffer Thursday morning as both sides examine whether they can bridge an ideological and practical divide to strike a bipartisan deal.
The offer was only one page long and did not contain any information on how to pay for the investment. Republicans had previously announced that they would fund the plan by repurposing the Covid-19 aid funds already approved by Congress for state and local governments and charging usage fees for people who use the newly built infrastructure.
The Republican plan provides $ 506 billion for roads, bridges, and major infrastructure projects, including $ 4 billion for electric vehicles. It also includes $ 98 billion for public transportation and $ 72 billion for water infrastructure.
Biden's most recent offer to Republicans last week was $ 1.7 trillion – $ 600 billion less than his original plan. The president has asked the GOP to put at least $ 1 trillion into an infrastructure package.
In order to reach an agreement, however, the sides would not only have to close a price gap, but also have different ideas about how the expenses can be balanced.
Biden has proposed raising corporate tax rates, filling gaps, improving IRS enforcement, and increasing tax increases for top earners. The president argues that businesses and the rich must pay their "fair share" of the infrastructure improvements that they can benefit from.
So far, however, Republicans have refused to consider a corporate or wealthy tax hike to fund the investment, calling changes to the 2017 GOP tax cuts a "red line" they cannot cross.
In their counteroffer, the Republicans again rejected Biden's request to raise corporate taxes, claiming they could cover infrastructure costs with funds already allocated by Congress or with transportation fees.
Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Chairman, R-Ky., Told CNBC that the GOP could make additional offers following Thursday's proposal.
"We will keep talking, and I understand that the President is ready to talk further," he said on Thursday to "Squawk on the Street". "We want to achieve a result for a major infrastructure package."
The GOP proposal does not include Biden administration priorities such as $ 400 billion for home health care, $ 100 billion for consumer discounts on electric vehicles, or spending on home and school modernization.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican who led the talks, said Thursday the sides are approaching negotiations ahead of Memorial Day, the date by which the White House wanted to see progress in the bipartisan negotiations.