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Countering Biden, Senate Republicans Unveil Smaller $568 Billion Infrastructure Plan

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, listens during a Senate Environment and Public Works confirmation hearing for Michael Regan, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. If confirmed, Regan will be expected to draw up new regulations and reverse Trump administration steps quickly to support Biden's aggressive plans to cut carbon emissions. Photographer: Brandon Bell/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republicans, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., unveiled a $568 billion infrastructure proposal meant to serve as a starting point for bipartisan negotiations.

Senate Republicans have released a $568 billion infrastructure proposal to counter the more than $2 trillion package unveiled by President Biden early this month. The five-year GOP proposal is unlikely to gain much support from Democrats, but the outline serves as a benchmark for any future negotiations on a bipartisan bill. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told reporters in the Capitol that she and the top Republicans on the committees that oversee infrastructure policies shared the information with the White House and have been in touch with Biden about their proposal.Capito, who is leading the GOP infrastructure push, said the goal is for congressional committees to lead the process. "The biggest message we want to put forward today is that this is important to us," Capito said. "We agree that these bills are necessary and that the committees of jurisdiction forge the compromise."Republicans have balked at Biden's wide-ranging interpretation of what is considered infrastructure -- his proposal includes funding for community care and affordable housing, for example. In their plan, GOP senators specifically list roads and bridges, public transit systems, rail, drinking water & wastewater infrastructure, ports & inland waterways, airports, safety, broadband infrastructure and water storage.The framework calls for:

  • $299 billion for roads and bridges
  • $61 billion for public transit,
  • $20 billion for rail
  • $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater
  • $13 billion for safety
  • $17 billion for ports and waterways
  • $44 billion for airports
  • $65 billion for broadband
  • $14 billion for water storage

Under Biden's plan, the transportation section alone is $53 billion more than the entire GOP plan.Republicans emphasized that any funding should be partnered with spending from state and local governments and should encourage private-sector investments and financing. Another major departure from Biden is the section on paying for the bill. Republicans call for funding offsets to cover the cost of the programs with an emphasis on repurposing existing funds that Congress has already approved. Republicans also rejected any corporate or international tax increases and any attempts to undo the 2017 tax cuts passed under President Trump.Biden has proposed paying for his plan primarily by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. Some Democrats, including Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., have suggested that Congress should look for areas of agreement and attempt to break up the legislation to pass some parts with bipartisan support. Coons, who is close with Biden, suggested passing other elements through budget reconciliation — which requires 51 votes rather than the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster."We are trying to get $2 trillion worth of infrastructure and jobs investments," Coons said on CNN last week. "Why wouldn't you do $800 billion of it in a bipartisan way? And then do the other $1.2 trillion, Dems-only, through reconciliation?" Biden has not directly addressed that possibility. Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.