President Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., had a “constructive” meeting Wednesday at the White House in their effort to forge a bipartisan deal on infrastructure spending and intend to talk again Friday, according to the Biden Administration.
Biden and Capito, the lead Senate GOP negotiator, met one-on-one in the Oval Office for about an hour to see if there’s a way forward on how much to spend on fixing the country’s roads and bridges, as well as on other matters, and how to pay for the new spending. Heading into the meeting, the two proposals from Democrats and Republicans were hundreds of billions of dollars apart.
But the White House Wednesday signaled progress and said the talks will continue.
“This afternoon, the President hosted Senator Capito for a constructive and frank conversation in the Oval Office about how we can drive economic growth and benefit America’s middle class through investing in our infrastructure,” the White House said in a statement. “The two agreed to reconnect on Friday.”
Biden has signaled he wants a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure, especially since he campaigned on his ability to work with Republicans and draw upon his decades of relationships in the Senate. But the Biden administration has also indicated it won’t wait indefinitely for Republicans to agree before trying to go it alone through a budget process that would only require Democratic support.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., met with President Biden in the Oval Office on June 2, 2021 to discuss infrastructure. (Getty Images/AP)
“Patience is not unending, and he wants to make progress,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday before the meeting. “His only line in the sand is inaction. He wants to sign a bill into law this summer.”
Biden initially proposed a massive $2.25 trillion plan that Republicans slammed for primarily spending money on things that are not infrastructure. The White House has since made a counteroffer to the Republicans of $1.7 trillion.
The Senate Republicans’ latest offer is to spend about $928 billion. One major sticking point between the two sides has been funding. Biden has proposed raising taxes on corporations to pay for the new spending, which Republicans have opposed. But the GOP wants to reprogram coronavirus funds for infrastructure spending, which is a problem for the White House.
Capito’s office said the senator is “encouraged” by the meeting with Biden and will brief her colleagues on the developments.
“During today’s meeting, Senator Capito and President Biden discussed the latest of several counteroffers Republicans have put forth and how they can come together to reach a bipartisan agreement,” Capito’s office said in a statement. “Senator Capito reiterated to the president her desire to work together to reach an infrastructure agreement that can pass Congress in a bipartisan way.
“She also stressed the progress that the Senate has already made. Senator Capito is encouraged that negotiations have continued.”