Senate Republicans outline their own infrastructure plan — here's what's in it

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Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, left, speaks to Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A group of Senate Republicans outlined their infrastructure plan Thursday, unveiling a much narrower vision for how to revamp U.S. transportation and broadband than the sweeping approach backed by President Joe Biden.

The GOP package would cost $568 billion, only a fraction of the Democratic president's more than $2 trillion package. It also would not address policies such as care for elderly and disabled people, which Biden included in his plan.

The Republican outline would set aside:

  • $299 billion for roads and bridges
  • $65 billion for broadband
  • $61 billion for public transit
  • $44 billion for airports
  • $35 billion for drinking water and waste water systems
  • $20 billion for railways
  • $17 billion for ports and inland waterways
  • $14 billion for water storage
  • $13 billion for safety measures

The GOP proposal is backed by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and John Barrasso of Wyoming. Democrats, who have stressed the need for a sprawling infrastructure package, will likely reject the lower price tag.

Capito called the framework an effort to start a conversation toward a compromise with Democrats. She said that “we agree that these bills are necessary,” and she hopes committees of jurisdiction in the Senate “should be the ones that force the compromise.”

“I think that we see this as an offer that is on the table and deserves a response,” she said. “And I think it will get a response.”

Capito said the investments would be fully funded, potentially through policies including user fees on electric vehicles and repurposing of state and local relief passed as part of coronavirus aid bills. She said the GOP aims to maintain tax cuts passed in 2017, which Biden wants to partly reverse.

The White House has said it hopes to craft an infrastructure bill congressional Republicans will support. The proposal outlined Thursday shows a gulf between the parties' priorities and comfort with federal spending — along with what they even consider infrastructure.

It is unclear what bill could win the 60 votes needed to get through the Democratic-held Senate, which is split 50-50 by party. Democratic leaders will have to decide whether to try to pass a larger infrastructure bill on their own — which will require them to navigate opposition within their own ranks — or agree to a smaller plan with the GOP.

Spokespeople for Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the GOP framework.

Biden has met twice with lawmakers from both parties about infrastructure in recent weeks. A group of centrist Republican and Democratic senators also met Wednesday as they try to find a consensus.

Some Democratic lawmakers have suggested the party could approve a transportation and broadband-focused bill with GOP support, then move to pass their broader priorities through a special budget process that requires a simple majority vote.

Biden's plan calls to upgrade roads, bridges, airports, trains, housing and broadband, while investing in electric vehicles, care for elderly and disabled Americans and job training programs. It would offset costs by raising the corporate tax rate to 28% and seeking to crack down on offshoring of corporate profits.

Republicans have criticized both the scope and cost of Biden's plan. They have also resisted efforts to raise taxes on businesses.

Biden's tax proposal has also drawn backlash from within his party. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has said he supports hiking the corporate rate to 25% rather than 28%. Republicans slashed the tax rate to 21% from 35% in 2017.

Biden aims to pass two separate infrastructure and recovery bills. He plans to unveil the second plank, a plan focused on child care, paid leave and tax credits that could cost more than $1 trillion, in the coming weeks.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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