After meeting at the White House last week about President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, both the president and a group of Republican senators emerged hopeful at arriving at a compromise. They agreed to meet again this week, Federal News Network reported.
The GOP senators prepared to build on the $568 billion proposal they had put forward last month as an alternative to Biden’s American jobs and families plans. “The president asked us to come back and rework an offer so that he could then react to that,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who is leading the group.
“We’re very encouraged,” she told reporters outside the White House. “The attitude the president had in the Oval Office with us was very supportive and desirous of striking a deal.”
Biden was also upbeat. “I am very optimistic that we can reach a reasonable agreement — and even if we don’t, it’s been a good faith effort,” Biden said. Biden wants to try and strike a deal with Republicans instead of going it alone with a Democrats-only bill. Such a compromise might be a more politically viable route in a Congress held by the president’s party with only a slim majority, according to Federal News Network.
One strategy that appears to be at play is for Biden to negotiate a more limited infrastructure bill of roads, highways, bridges and broadband as a bipartisan effort. Then, Democrats could try to pass the remainder of Biden’s priorities on climate investments, child care, education and hospitals on their own.
“I’m willing to negotiate,” Biden said. He reiterated his view Thursday that “doing nothing is not an option.”
The White House said the president stressed that inaction was a “red line for him.” He set a Memorial Day deadline for progress on a bipartisan deal.
Those gathered included some of the top ranking Republicans — Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. Joining Biden were Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.