LIVE: Biden Meets With Senate Republicans on Infrastructure in the Oval Office

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “LIVE: Biden Meets With Senate Republicans on Infrastructure in the Oval Office” – below is their description.

    (May 13) President Joe Biden’s sit-down on Thursday with half a dozen Republican senators will determine whether there’s a chance for a bipartisan bill on infrastructure, one of the planned participants in the meeting said.

    “Today Republicans will learn whether @POTUS is serious about reaching a deal on infrastructure,” Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi said in a tweet, referring to the president. “Our conference has a good faith offer on the table. We are ready to work with the President and our Democratic colleagues.”

    Roy Blunt of Missouri, another participant, said the two key issues are how to define infrastructure — after Biden’s plan incorporated elderly care and other social spending the GOP opposes — and excluding any move to roll back the 2017 Republican tax cuts to help pay for a package.

    “If we establish those two things, it is very possible to put the biggest infrastructure package ever passed by the Congress on the president’s desk,” Blunt said. “I hope we can.”

    Blunt, along with the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Mike Crapo, both signaled support for tougher Internal Revenue Service enforcement as one way to boost revenue and help fund infrastructure spending.

    Crapo said he was “very willing” to consider such an effort, though questioned whether it could raise as much money as the $700 billion over 10 years the White House has suggested. Crapo has formally asked the IRS to explain the estimate.

    House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday after a separate confab with Biden and top congressional leaders that his party would release as soon as next week an infrastructure proposal of less than $800 billion. Biden has pitched the more expansive $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan.

    While the White House wants to boost corporate taxes to pay for infrastructure, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he told Biden Wednesday that a “red line” for the GOP is rolling back any of the 2017 tax cuts — which included a sharp reduction in the levy on companies.

    At stake for the administration is showcasing to moderate Democrats that an effort is being made to do a bipartisan deal — as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has specifically called for.

    Thursday afternoon’s meeting includes Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, along with Wicker, Blunt, Crapo and fellow Republicans Shelley Moore Capito, John Barrasso and Pat Toomey.

    The Wednesday gathering with McConnell, McCarthy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, offered mixed signals.

    Both sides are signaling an openness to some kind of infrastructure package, but remain deeply divided over scope. McCarthy said it should include only roads, bridges, highways, airports and broadband. Biden’s plan has $400 billion for elderly care, among other non-traditional items.

    It’s also unclear whether there’s room to agree on how to pay for it. While Republicans oppose tax hikes, Biden has ruled out user fees, which Republicans have suggested, with the president saying they would put the burden to the poor, working-class and middle-class.

    There are increasing signs the bill would be split up if a bipartisan agreement on some infrastructure measures did emerge. That would leave Biden to try to advance some or all of the rest of his proposal without Republican support. Biden himself signaled Wednesday he was open to splitting the legislation.

    “I want to make it clear — I want to get a bipartisan deal on as much as we can get a bipartisan deal on. And that means roads, bridges, broadband, all infrastructure,” Biden told MSNBC in an interview aired Wednesday night. But he said he wouldn’t give up on other measures and may try to pass those separately with only Democratic votes.

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