President Joe Biden told a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Monday that he is prepared to compromise on his $2 trillion infrastructure plan – both on what it contains and how it is paid for.
‘I am prepared to compromise,’ he said during an Oval Office meeting. ‘There’s a lot of needs and so we’re going to be talking about, number one, what should be included in the package. Obviously I put a lot in the package and they get all should be included, and how to pay for it.’
‘I’ve noticed everybody’s for infrastructure, the question is who’s going to pay for it. And that’s what we’re going to try to work out today,’ he added.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sat to Biden’s right in the meeting, where Vice President Kamala Harris typically sits. Harris was in North Carolina on Monday to tout the jobs’ plan.
President Joe Biden told a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers he is prepared to compromise on his $2 trillion infrastructure plan – both on what it contains and how it is paid for
The Oval Office meeting comes as the administration prepares for a new round of taxes – this time on wealthy individuals – to pay for the second phase of Biden’s infrastructure plan, which focuses on social programs.
The 10 lawmakers meeting with Biden are all former governors or mayors. The president has touted his support from Republican mayors and governors to paint his proposals as bipartisan even as his American Rescue Package didn’t garner a single GOP vote on Capitol Hill.
‘A little secret here,’ Biden said. ‘Full disclosure: I asked senators and congressmen who would either been governors or mayors because they know what it’s like to make things work, to make sure that you get things done, and deal with infrastructure and the needs of your community.’
Biden faces an uphill battle on his sprawling infrastructure plan, which goes beyond tradition projects of roads and bridges to include housing, childcare and the environment.
Both Democrats and Republicans have weighed in on the proposal, which is in the process of being drafted on Capitol Hill.
Monday’s meeting marks the second time in the last two weeks Biden has hosted a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Last week he met with eight lawmakers for nearly two hours.
Among the group of 10 lawmakers sitting down with the president is Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who has an infrastructure proposal of his own to counter Biden’s.
‘All 10 of us got a chance to speak,’ Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill after the meeting. ‘The president spoke about his plan, what he hoped to accomplish with it, but he was in listening mode, and, and was gracious to solicit our respective points of view.’
‘We had a good opportunity to present our view,’ he noted.
Among lawmakers meeting with Biden is Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who has an infrastructure proposal of his own
This was the second meeting of bipartisan lawmakers President Biden has hosted in the past two weeks as he tries to sell his infrastructure plan on Capitol Hill
Democratic Senators Angus King of Maine; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire; and John Hickenlooper of Colorado were among those at the meeting
The Republican legislation aims for a smaller infrastructure deal – in the $600 billion to $800 billion range.
It would focus on traditional infrastructure items and some Democrats see that as a first step to a larger deal.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a close Biden ally, said on ‘Fox News Sunday that the Senate should ‘come together in a bipartisan way to pass that $800 billion hard infrastructure bill’ and then tackle a second package that would include additional items the president is proposing.
Lawmakers meeting with Biden on Monday
Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
Sen. Angus King of Maine
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri
Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida
Rep. Norma Torres of California
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah
Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota
Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida
Rep. Kay Granger of Texas
Meanwhile the White House wooing continues.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain will host leaders of the moderate House Democratic Blue Dog Coalition on Tuesday and key members of the New Democrat Coalition on Wednesday, a White House official told CNN.
Vice President Kamala Harris is in North Carolina on Monday to sell the plan and other Cabinet officials are also hitting the road.
Republicans have criticized Biden’s plan for being too large and going outside the traditional infrastructure scope. Some moderate Democrats have expressed similar concern.
Biden has defended his plan by saying all the items contribute to the greater infrastructure of the country.
But he’s also facing criticism from his left wing, who wanted him to go even bigger.
The White House is working to mollify progressives with talk of the American Families Plan, a second part of the infrastructure initiative that will be released this month and focus on social programs, including the child tax credit.
But most Republicans strongly oppose the social programs and liberals worry that a smaller first round package passing with bipartisan support could kill the second round proposal.
To pay for his American Families Plan, Biden is weighing a new series of tax hikes on the wealthy, people familiar with the discussions told Politico.
The new taxes come after the administration proposed a series of taxes on corporations last month to pay for its $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. Some of those funds could pay for first round of infrastructure funding but the way to cover costs is still being worked out as the legislation is being crafted.
But a presidential proposal for a tax on the wealthy is likely to be much more contentious on Capitol Hill than his push to raise corporate taxes.
Vice President Kamala Harris leaves for North Carolina on Monday to sell President Biden’s infrastructure plan
Republicans are pushing back hard on Biden’s plan to raise taxes – both on corporations and on high-net earners.
And some Democrats from high-worth areas – such New York, San Francisco and Silicon Valley – may object to the president’s plan to raises taxes on their constituents.
Biden has pledged only to raise taxes on households making more than $400,000. But the administration hasn’t been clear as to whether that limit applies to individual earnings or combined household – a distinction that makes a big difference especially in areas on the East and West Coasts where the cost of living is high.
One idea the administration is considering would be to reel back Donald Trump’s tax cut, taking the top marginal tax rate back to 39.6 per cent, where it was before the 2017 tax cut.