'Time to move on': Infrastructure talks near collapse

“We’re too far apart. Because I think that ultimately Mitch doesn’t compromise, but delay and mischief,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), who took less urgent notes in an interview last week. Biden did “Entitled to his judgment, but if I were in the room with him I would say it is time to move on.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the next step was with Republicans and the White House was “not quite there” to save the talks. The main problems are moderate Democrats signaling that they are not ready to do a massive new spending bill on their own just to make sure the sucker talks go on for at least a few more days.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) And John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) Both said that they still have hope of bipartisan negotiations. When asked about the obviously dire state of the talks between Biden and the Republicans, centrist Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Said: “It’s always darkest before daybreak.”

The negotiations took a nosedive on Friday. The White House proposed a $ 1.7 trillion counteroffer, which means about $ 1.5 trillion more in new spending than the one offered by the GOP. Senate Republicans defied the number, calling it a non-runner, and declaring that the offers would only grow apart.

“I didn’t like the deal last week,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Who is part of the Republican group.

Republicans have tried to focus the negotiations solely on roads, bridges and broadband. Most Democrats, however, envision a more comprehensive approach, with money available for paid family vacations, housing, and fighting climate change. Neither party made any progress in addressing these fundamental differences. Progressives fear that cutting an infrastructure deal with the GOP could undermine their priorities.

Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), Who is close to Biden, said the centrist Democrats, who seek bipartisan rather than a partisan approach, “need to be clearer about their patience and timing.” He also urged the GOP negotiators to move closer to the White House position.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.), the leading Republican negotiator, said she was “unwilling to leave” and was discussing how to counter Biden’s offer, which will lead to a crucial outcome for talks in the coming days could. A GOP source close to the negotiations said Republicans should make a counter offer this week. And a source familiar with the negotiations said White House officers have been in direct contact with Republican senators since the Friday meeting.

The group of GOP negotiators plans to move on to the next steps on Tuesday.

“The last little step you need to know is, are you going to turn the Biden switch into a counter?” said Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “It all depends on this question. And if they do, they’ll be doing it in the next day or two. And if they don’t in the next day or two, that means they won’t. “

Privately, members of both parties acknowledge that the most likely outcome is that Democrats will pass Biden’s $ 4 trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal along the lines of partisan politics using what is known as the reconciliation process. After the Democrats took a similar approach to a coronavirus relief law in March, some senators such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) And Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Were reluctant to leave Republicans behind for the second time.

This created a long-standing back and forth between Biden and the Republicans, both of whom argue that if they can’t get a deal on infrastructure, they can’t get one for anything. But that might be the reality as they can’t even agree on what infrastructure is: the GOP sees physical infrastructure as their top priority, but the Democrats want to include so-called “human infrastructure” as well as other priorities like electric vehicles.

“We can’t say that [off] unlimited. So I hope they can reach an agreement, but they’re still pretty far apart, ”said Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Who said he was“ reluctant ”to submit a proposal Support $ 1.7 trillion. “We just have to decide if bipartisan will work and be honest if it doesn’t.”

Durbin’s counterpart, Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), Said things are “temporarily in a stalemate” as the two parties cannot agree on what infrastructure is or how to pay for it. Republicans have also rejected Biden’s hopes of using corporate tax hikes to pay for his plan. Instead, they have proposed alternative compensation, including user fees and unspent coronavirus bailout money, which the Democrats have identified as inadequate.

“There needs to be a meeting of the minds to agree on the big parameters like the fact that we are not going to reverse the 2017 tax cuts,” said Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). “And the government has so far refused to recognize this. That’s a big deal, that’s a red line for Republicans. “

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