Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Capito, W.Va., are set to unveil a $1T infrastructure proposal Thursday they say would be paid for with unused coronavirus relief funds, but a source familiar with the Biden administration's thinking told Fox Business such funds do not exist.
The source said there is not $700 billion in unspent federal relief funds, and the vast majority has been spent or allocated. The source said 95% of the $3 trillion passed before President Biden took office has been obligated or is for the Paycheck Protection Program, unemployment insurance, or nutrition assistance.
But 24 states are ending federal unemployment enhancement early.
The White House feels the American Rescue Plan is working as intended and large swaths of it have already been spent on $1400 cash payments, funding for state and local governments, and relief for families and small businesses.
But Republicans have noted much of the funding from the American Rescue Plan wouldn't even be spent in 2021. An estimate from the Congressional Budget Office found that $1.09 of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan would be spent this year, $477 billion would be spent in 2022 and the rest would be spent up through 2031.
GOP senators, including Capito, Pat Toomey, Pa., Roy Blunt, Mo., and John Barasso, Wyo., will delve into the details on their package Thursday morning at 9 a.m.
Toomey told Fox Business he was left with the impression Biden would accept the offer.
The White House said last week it is willing to reduce its proposal from $2.25T to $1.7T.
Republicans had earlier countered Biden's original plan with a $568 billion offer.
The topline number for the GOP proposal is expected to include funding for research and development, which the WH previously proposed moving into the Endless Frontiers Act as part of their smaller counterproposal. The bill is making its way through the Senate, and Republicans agreed to add that funding back into the infrastructure plan – rather than deal with it in other legislation. The move brings up the GOP’s topline dollar amount – without increasing funding in areas the WH asked for, such as the care economy.
Meanwhile, Biden has proposed paying for the plan by rolling back some of former President Trump’s tax cuts and raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, but Republicans have said corporate tax increases are a nonstarter.
The White House has said it would like to see progress on a bill by Memorial Day and has indicated that it wants to send the measure to Biden's desk before the August recess. Democrats have said they want the bill to be bipartisan but have made veiled threats that they might move to pass a bill by reconciliation, or a budget process that only requires a simple majority, if Republicans weren’t willing to budge to their liking.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., told reporters after a meeting between the Republican negotiators Tuesday that the bill would be close to the president's request.
"We're going to hit a figure very close to what the president said he would accept, and it will end up being the most substantial infrastructure bill ever enacted by the federal government," Wicker said.
"And if the president gets to make the decision, he will accept it," he added, alluding to rumors from Republicans that Biden is much more willing to compromise than is his staff.
Fox Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report.