President Biden may meet this week with a group of senators trying to strike a bipartisan infrastructure, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday morning, but he is waiting until he has more details on their roughly $1 trillion framework before he commits to supporting the proposal.
"We need a few more details about the deal, and about the proposal, including specifics about how to pay for it," Psaki said during an interview on "CBS This Morning."
The coalition of 21 senators – 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats – are eyeing a scaled-back $974 billion measure that would include about $579 billion in new funding. The money would be spent over the course of five years on core infrastructure projects, like roads and bridges, transit systems and broadband.
The lawmakers have not finalized an agreement on how to pay for the bill and continue to discuss that part of the plan, including with the White House. Options include repurposing federal COVID relief money, closing the tax gap and using leftover unemployment insurance money from the 26 states that are prematurely opting out of a federal relief program.
Some moderates have also floated the possibility of a gas tax, a proposal the White House has resolutely rejected.
"An idea that's been floating around there, that certainly the president would not support, is a gas tax, which would raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year," Psaki said Monday. "We're just not going to stand for that and we're not going to accept that."
While the $928 billion offer is much closer in line to Biden's target, there remains an ideological gulf between the two sides over what constitutes infrastructure. The GOP's plan notably does not include new spending on a wide range of areas where Biden has recommended billions, such as elder care and veterans hospitals.
Biden has proposed the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, a sweeping initiative that would make massive investments in the nation's crumbling roads and bridges and includes billions to combat climate change and bolster care for elderly and disabled Americans, as well as the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would dramatically expand the government-fund social safety net.
The president has called for funding the first plan by raising taxes on corporations, from 21% to 28%, and the second by increasing taxes on wealthy Americans earning more than $400,000 – hikes that Republican lawmakers fiercely oppose.
Psaki noted that Biden has "already come down quite a bit" from his initial number, a sign that he's "willing to compromise" and "work on a couple of tracks."
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer convened a meeting of the 11 Democrats who sit on the Budget Committee to trigger the start of the budget reconciliation process, which would allow them to pass legislation without the need for Republican votes. Democrats are considering a sweeping $6 trillion package that would build on Biden's "jobs" and "families" plans.
"It is a positive, though, that Democrats and Republicans are continuing to negotiate," Psaki said. "The president looks forward to getting more details."