Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg laid down a June 7 deadline for "clear direction" on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, but the day has arrived with no signs that President Biden and a coalition of moderate Republicans are close to striking a deal.
"This week Congress is out of Washington, but it's very much going to be a workweek for us and for the conversations that are ongoing with Congress," Buttigieg said last Sunday during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union." "By the time that they return, which is June 7, just a week from tomorrow, we need a clear direction."
But the two sides appear to remain as far apart as ever: Biden is slated to meet with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the top GOP negotiator on infrastructure, on Monday after rejecting her offer to add $50 billion in new spending to the existing Republican framework, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. Republicans previously put forward a $928 billion framework that included about $257 billion in new funding, while Biden had proposed a $1.7 trillion package.
For more than two months, Biden and Republicans have struggled to overcome an ideological bridge and remain fiercely divided over the size and scope of the measure.
Republicans have argued that Biden's proposal is too expensive and strays too far from "traditional" infrastructure, and have resisted any effort to roll back part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. To pay for the plans, Biden initially proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and imposing a higher global minimum on U.S. companies' foreign earnings.
In a major concession last week, the president offered to drop the corporate tax rate hike from the infrastructure proposal – and pursue it independently down the road – if Republicans agreed to $1 trillion in new spending and a global minimum tax rate of 15%.
Biden, however, is treading a careful line between Republicans and some members of his own party, including Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., who want to ditch the bipartisan negotiations and approve a sweeping, multitrillion-dollar tax and spending package using their majorities in the House and Senate. The president initially introduced a $2.3 trillion measure.
"If what we’ve read is true, I would have a very difficult time voting yes on this bill," Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., said in a statement Thursday. "$2 trillion was already the compromise. President Biden can’t expect us to vote for an infrastructure deal dictated by the Republican Party."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has indicated that he wants to pass an infrastructure bill by July, whether or not support for the measure is bipartisan.
"The bottom line is very simple, that it has always been our plan regardless of the vehicle to work on an infrastructure bill in July," he said last week. "And that’s our plan, to move forward in July."