WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden could be facing a make-or-break moment in his push for an expensive infrastructure proposal while he’s traveling in Europe this week on his first overseas diplomatic trip since taking office.
One set of negotiations with Republicans broke down shortly before he left, and now the White House is exploring other options for reaching a bipartisan deal.
“The fact is, this train is moving on several tracks,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Keeping track of all the moving pieces can be overwhelming, so here’s a look at where things stand now and how they got to this point.
—THE OPENING OFFER
Biden’s original blueprint, called the American Jobs Plan, was for $2.25 trillion for roads, bridges, broadband internet access, water systems, electric car charging stations and more. He wanted to finance the new spending by partially reversing corporate tax cuts enacted under former President Donald Trump, raising the rate to 28% after Republicans slashed it from 35% to 21%.
The White House sees political upside in seeking a bipartisan deal, especially after Democrats pushed through a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on a party-line vote earlier this year. Although agreements between the parties have been rare, Biden has been engaged in protracted negotiations with Republicans despite concern from progressives, who worry he’s wasting his time or risks compromising too much.
Until Tuesday, the White House’s primary focus had been on negotiations with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. However, Capito ultimately agreed to only $330 billion in new spending — the rest of the money in her proposal had been repurposed from other areas of the budget. Biden said he was willing to come down from his original proposal, but wanted at least $1 trillion in spending beyond what is projected under existing programs.
There was also no agreement on how to pay for the plan, especially with Republicans refusing to revisit corporate tax cuts.