- Democrats assailed the two-page GOP infrastructure blueprint, calling it too meager.
- One Democratic senator said the GOP was “light years” away from their position.
- The prospect of a short-term breakthrough on infrastructure appeared scant.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Democrats had scathing assessments for the two-page Republican infrastructure outline released on Thursday, an early sign that a bipartisan deal was far from being struck on one of President Joe Biden’s top economic priorities.
A group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia had unveiled the $568 billion infrastructure blueprint that was less a detailed plan than a two-page outline of principles. It amounted to about a quarter of Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion stimulus spending.
The GOP plan would spread out new spending over a five-year period on roads and bridges, broadband, and airports, largely paid for with user-fees. It included no corporate tax hike. Capito called it “a robust package” at a news conference.
But Democrats sharply disagree — and they torched the plan as too meager to deal with the dual crises of climate change and economic inequality.
“I think this Republican proposal is light years out of the ballpark in terms of being able to get a bipartisan compromise,” Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said on a press call. “They really dump it all on the backs of middle-class workers.”
Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania pointed to the Republican plan slashing the $400 billion in-home elder care component of Biden’s infrastructure plan, calling it a “terrible insult” to average workers.
“When they eliminate every penny for that investment, that’s a slap in the face to not just older Americans and people with disabilities, millions of families would need this care over the next number of years,” he told reporters on the same press call.
Democratic opposition to the plan appeared to run deep, and aides said they were skeptical of Republican seriousness on cutting a deal. Insider granted anonymity to two aides so they could speak candidly.
“Having a two-pager with four bullets on four [revenue] raisers, I don’t think it’s very serious,” one Democratic aide said, referring to the GOP plan.
“It doesn’t do anything on climate, which is non-negotiable for our caucus,” the aide said. “We can’t let a decade go by without doing more substantial on climate.”
“It’s a joke,” another Democratic aide said. “Their number is so low and achieves so few of the things even they agree are important. It’s not remotely in the ballpark of what is serious.”
A spokesperson for Capito did not respond to a request for comment. The office of Sen. Roger Wicker, another co-author of the GOP blueprint, declined to comment.
The White House said on Thursday it was ready to kick off negotiations on an infrastructure plan. The GOP proposal drew Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s approval earlier in the day.
“The president has said from the beginning he would welcome any good faith effort to find common ground because the only unacceptable step would be inaction,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
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