Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promotes the Senate Democrats' legislative achievements when he holds a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 25, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Pool | Reuters
Senate Democrats plan to come up with a massive infrastructure package next month – whether or not Republicans get on board – to pass bill this summer.
Senators won't be in Washington next week for Memorial Day holidays. When lawmakers return, the Democrats want to create an infrastructure plan that will cover everything from transportation to broadband, utilities to vocational training.
"As the president continues to discuss infrastructure legislation with Senate Republicans, the committees will hold hearings and continue their work on the Better Downsize agenda, with or without the support of Republican Senators," said Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, DN. Y. wrote on Friday in a letter to the Democrats. "We have to pass a comprehensive law on jobs and infrastructure this summer."
President Joe Biden has been working with Senate Republicans to see if they can get a bipartisan treaty to modernize America's infrastructure. After the final back-and-forth in their talks, the sides seem far from reaching an agreement on what to include in a bill and how the government should pay for it.
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As the White House and Republicans struggle for consensus, some Democrats have urged their party to try to pass a law without the support of the GOP. Democrats can do this through the budgetary vote process, which requires a simple majority in the evenly split Senate.
Republicans sent Biden a counteroffer for infrastructure worth $ 928 billion on Thursday. It came to about half the $ 1.7 trillion proposal the White House last sent to the GOP. The Biden government initially presented a $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.
In response to the offer, White House press secretary Jen Psaki praised "constructive" additions to road, bridge and rail spending. She said the White House "remains concerned" about Republicans' proposed spending on modernizing railroads and moving to clean energy, as well as the party's demands to pay for infrastructure with previously passed coronavirus bailout funds.
The White House has announced that it will spend almost all of the aid money. A diversion of funds could jeopardize support to small businesses and hospitals, Psaki said.
Despite the persistent differences, the sides expect the talks to continue. Biden could meet again next week with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginia Republican who is negotiating with the White House.
The parties have to work through two major disagreements to reach a deal. First, they have different ideas about what constitutes infrastructure.
The White House wants to include programs such as caring for the elderly and disabled Americans, which are critical to getting back to work and stimulating the economy. Republicans want to limit legislation to areas like transport, broadband, and water.
Biden and the Republicans may also struggle to compromise paying for the infrastructure plan. The president wants to raise the corporate tax rate to at least 25% – and combat the avoidance of corporate taxes overseas and underpayment of individual taxes domestically – to offset spending.
The GOP has announced that it will not support changes to its tax cuts for 2017 under an infrastructure law. The party cut the corporate rate from 35% to 21%.
It is unclear how long the talks will last if Democrats and Republicans fail to reach an agreement. On Thursday, Capito said Republicans "continue to negotiate in good faith".
In his letter, Schumer noted that he was "encouraged" by the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee to propose a non-partisan land transportation bill of around $ 300 billion this week.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky who previously said he would work to combat Biden's broader economic agenda, said Thursday that his party would continue to work with the president.
"We want to get a result on a major infrastructure package," he told CNBC.
The Democrats passed Biden's first major bill, a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, without a Republican vote in March.
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