By Charlie McCarthy
President Joe Biden wants $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending and offered to change his proposal regarding corporate tax hikes, it was reported Thursday.
Biden met with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the top Senate Republican negotiating infrastructure, on Wednesday. Although little was said by the two sides after the closed-door session, Politico reported details.
Three sources told Politico that Biden lowered his $1.7 trillion demand on new spending to $1 trillion but was holding firm on corporate tax hikes helping to pay for the infrastructure package.
The Washington Post, though, reported Biden suggested a minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent, seeking to take aim at dozens of profitable U.S. corporations that pay little to the federal government annually, according to a source.
The Post said Biden still wants to raise the corporate tax rate, currently 21 percent, to 28 percent but that could be pursued outside of the infrastructure negotiations.
Another person told Politico the new money Biden wants would be atop a baseline of $400 billion over five years.
Republicans insist Biden told them during a recent Oval Office meeting that baseline spending — money that would be spent under current policy — could be included in the total.
Thus, the Republicans proposed only $257 billion in new spending as part of their latest $928 billion infrastructure offer.
Politico said GOP members were planning another counteroffer, which could come as early as Friday.
Some Democrats have suggested trying to pass the infrastructure plan without GOP support. However, the Senate parliamentarian last week signaled new limits on how many times Democrats can use the budget reconciliation process that allows a 51-vote threshold, rather than the 60 votes typically needed to advance legislation.
“I have a hard time seeing this go ahead because Republicans’ plans always have baseline included; I don’t think Senate Republicans are interested in $1 trillion in new spending, or changing the tax cuts … or raising other taxes — and that’s been clear from Day 1,” a source told Politico.
After the meeting with Biden, Capito briefed the other Senate Republicans in her negotiating group — John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
Capito was scheduled to talk with Biden again on Friday, likely via phone. Politico said it was possible no GOP counteroffer would be made because some Republicans in the negotiating group were beginning to get discouraged.
“It’s a great dance but at some point the music is going to stop. Clearly nobody wants to be holding the bag,” one source told Politico.
Talks over Biden’s top legislative priority have moved slowly, and time for a deal is running out. The administration has set a June 7 deadline to see clear direction and signs of progress.
“The fact that the president is having Sen. Capito here today and has been having ongoing discussions with Republicans in the Senate and that he’s eager to find a path forward on bipartisanship work certainly tells you, I think, what you need to know about what he thinks about working with people even when there’s disagreement,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said before Wednesday’s meeting.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he hopes to pass infrastructure bills in July.
Biden has told aides the GOP’s latest $928 billion offer was unworkable, largely because it taps unused COVID-19 funds. Instead, the president wants to hike the corporate tax rate — a nonstarter for Senate Republicans.