The White House sliced nearly 25% off its $2.25 trillion, 10-year infrastructure package, bargaining down to $1.7 trillion in an effort to negotiate with Senate Republicans who offered their own $568 billion, five-year package in April.
“In our view this is the art of seeking common ground,” said White House spokesperson Jen Psaki during a press conference on Friday. “This proposal seeks a willingness to come down in size, giving in on some areas that are important to the president while also staying firm in areas that are most vital to rebuilding our infrastructure and industries of the future, and making our workforce and our country more competitive with China.”
Details of the counteroffer were not yet officially released. But responding to Republican opposition to President Joe Biden’s initial package claiming it went too far beyond “traditional” infrastructure such as roads and bridges — including attempts to address racial inequality and climate issues — the White House counteroffer shifted investments in research and development, supply chains, manufacturing, and small business into other efforts, according to Psaki.
The administration also agreed to reduce proposed investment in roads, bridges and major projects to come closer to the Senate’s offer, as well as reduce its funding request for broadband infrastructure, “all in the spirit of finding common ground,” she said.
Psaki asserted that the counteroffer kept certain “nontraditional” infrastructure investments in the package, including clean energy, clean drinking water and resilience projects to address climate change. Also kept in the package was increased investments in rail infrastructure.
The way the package will be paid for remained the same — increasing the corporate income tax level from 21% — but Psaki did not say how far, if any, the administration would come down off the 28% level initially proposed.
“The president is not willing to raise taxes on Americans earning under $400,000 through a gas tax or through user fees,” she said. “He believes the extraordinarily wealthy and companies, many of which have not paid taxes in recent years, can afford a modest [tax] increase to pay for middle-class jobs.”
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