A team of Biden administration officials is headed to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with a group of Republican senators and discuss their latest infrastructure counteroffer to President Biden's sweeping $4 trillion tax and spending proposals.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the meeting – which includes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo – will take place later Tuesday afternoon.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is leading the group of GOP lawmakers in drafting a slimmed-down infrastructure bill as they look to strike a bipartisan deal with Democrats. Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, will also be in attendance.
Infrastructure negotiations began last month, when the group of GOP senators offered a $568 billion, five-year package that was well short of Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. But there are growing signs the party would be willing to back a bigger bill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested last week there's an appetite for a package that costs as much as $800 billion, so long as it focuses solely on traditional infrastructure, including roads, ports, bridges, water lines and broadband.
It's unclear how such a measure would be paid for; Republicans strongly oppose Biden's push to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and impose a higher global minimum on U.S. companies' foreign profits.
McConnell said Senate Republicans would oppose any measure that rolls back parts of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and suggested an infrastructure bill could be paid for by raising the gas tax.
"The way to pay for infrastructure is through the gas tax that already exists, and the gap between that and what we're willing to spend here needs to be credibly paid for, and the best way to pay for infrastructure is with the people who use it," he said.
Some Republicans have also backed a proposal by Biden to crack down on tax cheats by strengthening Internal Revenue Service enforcement.
"I’m in favor of people paying what they owe," Toomey said Monday, according to Bloomberg News. "I think there’s a good case that can be made, we can justify that."
With narrow majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats have the option to bypass Republicans and approve the measure on a party-line basis using a procedural tool known as budget reconciliation. But some moderate members, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have indicated they want to pursue a bipartisan deal first on a smaller, more targeted infrastructure bill before moving unilaterally to pass a bigger measure.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told FOX Business on Tuesday morning that negotiations are "making steady progress" and said he believes Democrats "should continue to pursue negotiations as long as they are real and substantive."
"If we can get a bill, great," he said. "If we can't, then we will move to what it's going to take to get 50 Democrats."
FOX Business' Hillary Vaughn and Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report