WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s infrastructure talks with a group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito collapsed on Tuesday as the White House tries a different approach.
Both Capito’s office and the White House released statements confirming the news. The decision to end the talks comes after Capito had a five-minute phone conversation with the President earlier Tuesday.
“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 targeted infrastructure package, and instead, end our discussions,” Capito said in a statement. “However, this does not mean bipartisanship isn’t feasible.”
“After negotiating in good faith and making significant progress to move closer to what the president wanted, I am disappointed by his decision,” she added.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Biden told Capito “that the latest offer from her group did not, in his view, meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs.”
The news will now put pressure on Democrats to pass the legislation without Republican support using using a special process.
“He offered his gratitude to her for her efforts and good faith conversations, but expressed his disappointment that, while he was willing to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, the Republican group had increased their proposed new investments by only $150 billion,” Psaki said in the statement.
The Republicans proposed $330 billion and that was not good enough for Biden. Capito said Biden’s view raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations was an irresolvable red line.
“Despite the progress we made in our negotiations, the president continued to respond with offers that included tax increases as his pay for, instead of several practical options that would have not been harmful to individuals, families, and small businesses,” she said.
Biden spoke on Tuesday with a bipartisan Senate group led by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Also joining them was Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
The President “urged them to continue their work with other Democrats and Republicans to develop a bipartisan proposal that he hopes will be more responsive to the country’s pressing infrastructure needs,” according to Psaki.
With Biden set to depart on his first overseas trip since taking office, he is tasking his “Jobs Cabinet” to have a leading role in the discussions, along with White House aides Steve Ricchetti, Louisa Terrell and Brian Deese.
The White House statement also said Biden spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about the American Jobs Plan. Some Democrats are putting pressure on the White House to stop the negotiation process with Republicans and pass the infrastructure plan with just Democratic votes.
“It may well be that part of the bill that’ll pass will be bipartisan and part of it will be through reconciliation. But we’re not going to sacrifice the bigness and boldness in this bill,” Schumer said.