President Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) ended negotiations over the president’s infrastructure package on Tuesday without striking a deal.
Why? An administration official told The Washington Post that the White House decided to stop negotiations with Capito, who led the Senate GOP group because they refused to increase spending on the infrastructure plan and could not find common ground on how to cover its costs.
Biden “informed Senator Capito today 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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“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.”
Capito’s response: The lawmaker said she was “disappointed” by Biden’s decision.
“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. However, this does not mean bipartisanship isn’t feasible,” the West Virginia Republican said in a statement.
“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.
Capito later told Fox News that the Republican group tried to meet Biden halfway on several aspects, including the cost of the proposal. She claimed that Biden told the group what he wants to see in the package but that his staff later backtracked.
” I am extremely disappointed because we offered the president basically what he asked us to do the first time we met with him, which was a trillion dollars over eight years including baseline spending, and that it wouldn’t include a tax increase…that was our red line, not his,” she said.
“And the last offer that I got from the president had four tax increases in it and it also was much closer in numbers than what the White House is putting out right now, so I’m disappointed with that,” Capito noted.
“The president said that to us himself, very clearly, yes, in the first meeting. He said $1 trillion over eight years and you can include baseline spending. Now, it was walked back by his staff several days later… But we were writing to what the president said he would negotiate to, and that’s where I think we had miscommunication there…we understood what the president was saying in that initial meeting, and from there on we kept getting further apart,” she said.
What’s next? The White House will reportedly shift its focus toward a proposal from a bipartisan Senate group led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).
How we got here: Biden and Capito have been in talks for weeks on the major infrastructure plan but reportedly hit a snag earlier this week. The two sides tried to reach a deal after the White House introduced a $2.3 trillion plan and Republicans countered with a $568 billion proposal.
Since then, the president said he would be willing to cut back to $1 trillion. Republicans also inched closer, going as far as $978 billion. The president rejected that offer on Friday.
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