GOP's New $1T Infrastructure Proposal Includes $700B in Unspent COVID Aid

Senate Republicans plan to introduce a $1 trillion alternative to President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan by Thursday, their highest counterproposal yet in negotiations.

The GOP offer would span across eight years and leverage approximately $700 billion in untapped COVID-19 aid funds.

Biden's initial infrastructure investment offer sat at $2.3 trillion, which he later dropped to $1.7 trillion. Meanwhile, GOP senators opened at $568 billion and had only upped the offer by about $50 billion before this week's anticipated $1 trillion proposal.

Several Republicans met with Biden nearly two weeks ago to confer on the investment plan, and believe their newest proposal aligns with feedback from the president, the Associated Press reported. A prompt agreement may determine whether Biden's infrastructure plan will receive bipartisan support before the Memorial Day deadline to reach an agreement, but both Senate Republicans and Biden's allies have expressed desire for a deal to be made.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, told Capitol Hill reporters that she and her colleagues are "anxious to have a bipartisan agreement."

"We expect this week to be a week of progress," Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at the White House Tuesday.

For additional reporting on this story, see more from the Associated Press below.

Broad Coalition Demonstration
Activist Maurice Mitchell speaks to those attending a demonstration by various activists who are calling on President Joe Biden to not compromise on election promises regarding climate change, health care, jobs and social justice on May 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden's sweeping infrastructure plan would spur job creation, one of his election pledges. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network

The Republican senators and aides have made no secret of their displeasure with the White House staff in this and other negotiations.

Publicly and privately, they say that while Biden appears willing to negotiate with the senators, his staff often changes course. They point to a similar dynamic during coronavirus aid talks when Biden seemed to agree with a group of GOP senators, only to have staff behind him shaking their heads no.

The Republicans are eager to publicly disclose Biden's comments to them as they make the case for their new offer at a critical juncture, with negotiations at a fragile stage ahead of the Memorial Day deadline.

GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Republican offers so far have been "mischaracterized." He told reporters the negotiators would be putting out a "clarification" that will "make it clear what our offer actually is."

The Republicans have uniformly rejected Biden's plan to pay for the investments by raising corporate tax rates.

Psaki declined to comment on the forthcoming GOP proposal.

"This is going to feel like a tightrope walk all the way until it gets to Biden's desk," said Jim Kessler, executive vice president of Third Way, a centrist think tank.

The administration is signaling that it's important not just whether Biden can push his infrastructure and other proposals into law, but also how he does it. By this reasoning, voters — and some moderate Democratic lawmakers — are more likely to be on board if Biden at least tries for bipartisanship.

The West Wing believes its bargaining position is strong. Aides point to Biden's high poll numbers and the popularity of his proposals, all while believing that they have the option of muscling the infrastructure plan to passage under special budget reconciliation rules that require only a party-line vote.

But there is a growing sense of urgency within the White House and among Democrats. After a burst of legislative accomplishments, including the COVID-19 relief bill, the pace has slowed dramatically. And the future may hinge on a few select senators.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said repeatedly that "100% of my focus" is on stopping Biden's agenda.

Earlier this week, Psaki said that Biden is eager to engage with Republicans and awaited their next offer. "The ball is in the Republicans' court," Psaki said at Monday's White House briefing.

Psaki insisted no decisions had been made on whether the administration will go it alone as it awaits a counteroffer from Republicans. "We're not quite there yet," she said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Washington. Psaki said that Biden's team expects progress on the American Jobs Plan this week. Evan Vucci/AP Photo