Senate Republicans Shape Smaller Infrastructure Bill

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Senate Republicans on Tuesday discussed the outlines of a scaled-down infrastructure bill they say could pass the Democratic-led Congress with strong bipartisan support.

The Senate GOP conference discussed the emerging proposal after getting a briefing from Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee. She’s leading talks among a smaller group of GOP moderates who met with President Joe Biden earlier this year, notes The Hill. The group late Monday winnowed Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan into something in the range of $600 billion to $800 billion. 

The Republicans say it should be paid for with a combination of user fees, repurposing some of the $350 billion sent out to state and local governments in the American Rescue Plan and other revenue-raising measures. It’s unlikely Democrats will back these offsets, according to the account.

GOP lawmakers contend the Republican counteroffer will be limited to traditional infrastructure priorities, such as roads, bridges, ports and airports, as well as newer priorities such as water infrastructure, expanded broadband and modernization of the electric grid.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: “We’re open to a more modest and targeted infrastructure bill.” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) sees “a pathway” to reaching an infrastructure deal with Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

While the chances of a big bipartisan deal on infrastructure are slim, party leaders on both sides of the aisle have said they want to work out a compromise. GOP lawmakers finding agreement on a way to pay for a $600 billion to $800 billion infrastructure package is the biggest obstacle to get a deal, notes The Hill.

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