White House negotiations with Republican group led by Capito end without a deal
Infrastructure negotiations between President Joe Biden and a GOP Senate group led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito collapsed on Tuesday, and now the White House is focused on an impending proposal for a bipartisan Senate group led by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.
And on Tuesday night, a bipartisan group of 58 House members released a $ 1.25 trillion proposal – including $ 761.8 billion in new spending – in an attempt to break the deadlock in Congress.
The White House’s decision to withdraw from weeks-long negotiations with Senate Republicans follows an abrupt five-minute phone call Tuesday afternoon between Biden and Capito, a Republican from West Virginia. The White House and Capito’s office have confirmed that Biden has ended negotiations.
“While I appreciate President Biden’s willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept the very robust and focused infrastructure package and to end our talks,” Capito said in a statement following the call. “However, that does not mean that bipartisanship is not achievable.”
“After negotiating in good faith and making significant progress to get closer to what the president wanted, I am disappointed with his decision,” she added.
Later Tuesday afternoon, Capito told Fox News she was “extremely disappointed because we offered the president basically what he asked us to do the first time we met him.”
Capito argued that the “miscommunication” began when Biden’s staff pulled out of the Republicans’ red line.
“There were subsequent conversations with the staff where it was made clear that these were brand new expenses, and it was a big change from what we had been with the president himself.” , she said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Biden informed Capito “that his group’s latest offer did not, in his opinion, meet our country’s basic needs to restore our roads and our bridges, preparing us for our own energy. future and create jobs.
An administration official said the Biden-Capito call was respectful, but made it clear they weren’t going to come to a deal.
“He offered her gratitude for his efforts and good faith conversations, but expressed his disappointment that while he was prepared to cut his plan by more than $ 1,000 billion, the Republican group had only increased its proposed new investments only $ 150 billion, “Psaki said in the statement.
Biden also spoke with Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Republican Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana about their bipartisan infrastructure proposal, Psaki said.
Psaki said the president had “urged them to continue working with other Democrats and Republicans to develop a bipartisan proposal that he hopes will be more suited to the country’s urgent infrastructure needs.”
Capito had said earlier on Tuesday that she was not involved in the group.
âIt’s really separate and outside of what I’ve been dealing with,â she said. “I stick with what I have.”
When asked if she feels undermined by the group, Capito told Fox News it was “disappointing,” adding: “If there is anything else that looks better, it is is sometimes a distraction. “
She said she believed Democrats would then turn to fiscal reconciliation, a path that would not require them to overcome an obstruction and which could be passed by a simple majority.
However, Biden and his team are hopeful Capito will engage in the bipartisan group’s infrastructure efforts, according to an administration official.
Biden’s team will step up engagement with the Manchin-led group during this week, including plans for the president to engage directly while he’s in Europe, according to the White House. Cabinet secretaries who make up Biden’s “Jobs Cabinet” will play a leading role in the talks, alongside White House aides Steve Ricchetti, Louisa Terrell and Brian Deese, according to the White House statement. Chief of Staff Ron Klain is also expected to lead the negotiations from Washington while Biden is in Europe.
For its part, the House Problem Solvers Caucus has said it will spend infrastructure money over eight years, and its $ 1.25 trillion plan marks a rare bipartisan agreement on the scope of such a package. But the group does not detail how it would be paid, saying it is something they are working on with a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators, including Sinema, Cassidy and Manchin.
The president leaves the talks with Capito maintaining the opinion that they were conducted in good faith and derives not only a better understanding of her point of view, but also a positive opinion of her in general, according to an administrative source .
White House officials viewed the Capito negotiations as simply dead in the water – with Biden ready to make many more concessions and seek creative ways to meet GOP demands, especially on the 2017 tax law , said the official. The administration’s point of view was that the effort was just not reciprocal.
Biden and Capito have been in contact frequently since the president proposed a comprehensive infrastructure plan. But the talks dragged past the White House Memorial Day deadline without a significant breakthrough between the two sides, prompting some Democrats to move on to bipartisan talks.
Biden invited Capito to the White House last week and offered to lower his price to $ 1,000 billion in new spending. On Friday, he rejected a new counter-offer made by Capito on behalf of Senate Republicans that included a $ 50 billion spending increase. Biden told Capito the new offer falls short of his political goals.
Two administrative sources have indicated that in the end, Biden’s demand that the GOP group commit to significantly increasing funding was just not something they could do. One source said Biden never considered reallocating Covid relief funds to fund the proposal and the other source said he didn’t feel he had a sufficient counter-proposal which did not involve the use of these funds.
The White House statement said Biden also spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer regarding the US jobs plan and budget process “in order to that legislation to advance the president’s economic priorities and tax reform plans can be transferred to the Senate in July. “
Capito had signaled several times this week that it was unsure of the direction of the infrastructure negotiations at this point.
And hours before he was scheduled to speak with Capito, Biden appeared to suggest the door close to reaching any kind of bipartisan deal.
âI’m working hard to find common ground with Republicans when it comes to America’s jobs plan, but I refuse to raise taxes for Americans who earn less than $ 400,000 a year to pay for it. It’s about time the rich and the corporations paid their fair share, âBiden tweeted.
Some Democrats are pressuring the White House to walk away from negotiations with Republicans, go it alone, and pass a massive infrastructure plan with only Democratic votes. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said on Monday he believed bipartisan talks over a vast array of infrastructure had run their course.
House Democrats will begin work on an infrastructure bill on Wednesday to pass with or without Republican backing.
This story was updated with additional developments on Tuesday.