The White House on Monday outlined a number of possible paths toward passing infrastructure legislation.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that President Biden would be speaking again with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the lead Republican negotiator on infrastructure, before leaving for a week-long trip to Europe on Wednesday. Those talks had been expected to occur on Monday, but Psaki said the White House was still scheduling them.
Biden and Capito spoke on Friday, after which the White House said Biden thought that the latest Republican offer was still too small. "The president has come down by about a trillion dollars" from his original proposal of nearly $2.3 trillion, Psaki said. "What we’ve seen on the other side is they've only come up by a small percentage of that."
Capito's latest offer reportedly totaled just under $1 trillion, though the bulk of that money is in existing spending plans. Psaki added that Biden is eager to see where the talks go from here. “He’s come down quite a bit. We’re looking to see more” from Republicans, she said.
At the same time, Psaki raised two other options for an infrastructure bill. One is a five-year, $547 billion surface transportation package called The INVEST in America Act, which is set to be marked up this week by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and has significant overlap with Biden’s American Jobs Plan. Psaki also pointed to ongoing discussions among a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), who are trying to craft their own infrastructure package. “We’ll look forward to seeing what they have to offer and what conversation we can have with them,” Psaki said.
Psaki told reporters that the White House expects progress on all three fronts this week — but she made clear that the clock is ticking.
The bottom line: The White House is holding out hope for a bipartisan deal, but the path that Psaki didn’t detail — the one that involves Democrats moving forward on their own on a broad infrastructure package using the budget reconciliation process — may still be the likeliest.