Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, right, visits the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge construction site together with District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, in southeast Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, left, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, right, visit the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge construction site in together with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, in southeast Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
A concrete pump frames the Capitol Dome during renovations and repairs to Lower Senate Park on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. President Joe Biden hopes to pass a massive national infrastructure plan by this summer but Democrats and Republicans in Congress appear divided over his proposal for $2.3 trillion in spending to upgrade the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
FILE – In this May 13, 2021, file photo, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., right, listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Republican Senators in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The two senators from West Virginia are playing central roles in Biden’s infrastructure plans. Democrat Joe Manchin is a crucial 50th vote for his party on Biden’s proposals.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Washington.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House put forward a $1.7 trillion infrastructure counteroffer Friday to Senate Republicans, dropping from President Joe Biden’s sweeping $2.3 trillion proposal “in the spirit of finding common ground.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki disclosed the new offer as talks were still underway between key Cabinet secretaries and GOP senators at a crucial stage toward a deal. Skepticism had been rising on all sides amid complaints about the lack of significant movement off the opening bids. Republicans had offered a $568 billion plan.
“This proposal exhibits a willingness to come down in size,” she said at the press briefing.
The White House and Republican senators have been in talks ever since Biden met with a core group of Republican negotiators last week over the possibility of working together on an infrastructure plan. The White House dispatched the transportation and commerce secretaries and top aides to Capitol Hill to meet with the Republicans earlier this week, and they had a follow up video-call Friday.
The slog of those negotiations is certain to mean new worries from Democrats that time is slipping to strike a compromise. The president’s team had set a soft Memorial Day deadline to determine whether a deal was within reach.
Psaki said the new proposal drops the president’s proposed expenditures on broadband and bridges to meet the Republicans’ lower level, She said the administration’s proposal also involved “shifting investments in research and development, supply chains, manufacturing and small business,” on par with the Endless Frontiers Act, which is a bipartisan bill pending in the Senate.