White House offers Republicans $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan, down from $2.3 trillion

Jessica Smith·Chief Political Correspondent

The Biden administration has offered Republicans a $1.7 trillion infrastructure proposal, down from $2.3 trillion, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday. 

“This is the art of seeking common ground,” said Psaki. “This proposal exhibits a willingness to come down in size — giving on some areas that are important to the president… while also staying firm on areas that are most vital to rebuilding our infrastructure and industries of the future.” 

Psaki said administration officials — including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo — met virtually with Republican Senators on Friday to present the counter offer. 

Republicans originally offered a $568 billion plan and met with White House officials earlier this week to continue negotiations. 

Psaki said the plan reduces the funding for broadband to match the GOP offer and reduces the money proposed for roads, bridges and major projects to “come closer” to the Republican plan. 

The proposal would also remove some of the proposals related to research and development, supply chains and manufacturing that will likely be addressed in the Endless Frontier Act, a bipartisan bill addressing competition with China that the Senate is debating. 

“This is all in the spirit of finding common ground,” said Psaki. 

Psaki stressed the Republican proposal was insufficient in many areas important to the administration, including investments in clean energy, investments in power sector and workforce training.

Despite the counteroffer from the White House, finding common ground on how to pay for the plan will be difficult. In a statement after the meeting, Kelley Moore, communications director for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W. Va.), said the the plan is “well above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support.”

“There continue to be vast differences between the White House and Senate Republicans when it comes to the definition of infrastructure, the magnitude of proposed spending, and how to pay for it. Based on today’s meeting, the groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden,” said Moore. 

The White House said President Biden wants to pay for the plan with tax increases on corporations and the wealthy — and he is still opposed to a gas tax or user fees, which Republicans have proposed. Republicans have largely rejected tax increases, calling them a “red line” in negotiations.