Biden's Infrastructure Deal Locked in Stalemate as GOP Rejects Latest Democratic Offer

Senate Republicans have rejected President Joe Biden's most recent infrastructure offer, leaving both parties at an impasse as the June 7 deadline approaches. The Republicans are anticipated to present another counteroffer in the remaining time, the Associated Press reported.

Following the rejection and a lower than expected report on job gain in May, Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, that his sweeping infrastructure plan is needed to accelerate recovery from the pandemic's toll on the economy.

"Now is the time to build on the progress we've made," Biden told reporters. "We need to make those investments today to continue to succeed tomorrow."

Biden and Republican Senators have negotiated what is expected to be a $1 trillion investment following their opening bids, but have not yet reached a consensus on how to fund it. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has disclosed the president and Democrat allies will attempt to move forward without GOP backing if necessary, AP reported.

"We're going to keep our options open to see what paths we can move forward on," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Shelley Moore Capito
In this photo taken May 27, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the GOP's lead negotiator on a counteroffer to President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan, speaks at a news conference as she is joined by, from left, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., at the Capitol in Washington. Biden and the West Virginia senator will meet Wednesday afternoon to work on their differences. J. Scott Applewhit/AP Photo

Republicans are showing no interest in Biden's latest proposal for a 15 percent corporate minimum tax rate that would ensure all companies pay something in taxes, rather than allowing so many write-offs or deductions that they contribute zero to the treasury.

A Republican familiar with the talks, and granted anonymity to discuss the private assessment, said the GOP senators view Biden's latest idea as an unnecessary tax hike.

Instead, Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, are poised to submit a revised offer when she talks with Biden again Friday, the person said. They will insist on using untapped COVID-19 relief funds to pay for the infrastructure investments, the Republican said. Biden's team has rejected that approach.

Still, neither Biden nor the GOP senators appear ready to call off talks, even as Democrats lay the groundwork for using budget rules to pass any big package on their own, without Republican votes.

On Friday, House Democrats released a plan for spending $547 billion over the next five years on road, mass transit and rail projects, a blueprint of their priorities and a potential building block for Biden's broader package.

The proposal from Rep. Peter DeFazio, the Democratic chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, continues existing programs set to expire and adds key pieces of the larger measure Biden is negotiating with Republicans.

DeFazio's legislation, a reauthorization of surface transportation programs set to expire Sept. 30, doesn't address how to pay for the projects. He called the effort a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to move our transportation planning out of the 1950s and toward our clean energy future."

In addition to Biden's proposed a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations—there's no minimum tax now on corporate profits—he envisions additional revenues from increased IRS enforcement. He is seeking roughly $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending. Senate Republicans have countered with only $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 transit programs and $95 billion would go to freight and passenger rail system, including a tripling of funding for Amtrak.

DeFazio's bill is not expected to attract much GOP support, as Republicans unveiled their own legislation recently that would authorize about $400 billion over five years for road, bridge and transit programs.

Republicans on the House panel panned the bill in a statement. "Instead of working with Republicans to find common ground on a bill that could earn strong bipartisan support—something our Senate counterparts did successfully last month—this bill moves even further to the left to appease the most progressive members in the Majority's party."

A Senate panel recently passed its version of the highway bill unanimously, but the lawmakers didn't have to vote yet on how they would pay for it, a focal point of negotiations between GOP senators and the White House.

Business groups such as the U.S. 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 using a process that would allow Democrats to pass an infrastructure boost with a simple majority, which they did through a COVID-19 relief measure that delivered $1,400 payments to most Americans.

"Getting Republicans on board is not necessary. Getting the American people back on their feet is," Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., said Thursday night.

Pete Buttigieg
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during a roundtable discussion with immigrant airport workers at Ronald Reagan National Airport May 25 in Arlington, Virginia. Buttigieg has disclosed that President Joe Biden and his allies may move forward with the sweeping infrastructure plan without GOP support if they can't reach a consensus by the June 7 deadline. Alex Wong/Getty Images