© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden gestures at Senator Shelley Capito (R-WV) during an infrastructure meeting with Republican Senators at the White House in Washington, the United States, May 13, 2021. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque / File Photo
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Republican, who leads her party's efforts to work out an infrastructure deal with President Joe Biden, said she did not expect an agreement to be reached on Tuesday as she waited to see talks resume could be included.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, was due to speak to Biden Tuesday, according to White House officials, but told reporters by noon that she had not heard from him.
"I don't think we'll agree today, but I still believe there is an agreement here. And I think that's why we're both ready to keep talking," said Capito, who is a six-member Republican Senate team in infrastructure talks with the administration.
The two parties remain far apart https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/republicans-vs-biden-whats-their-infrastructure-plans-2021-04-22 on one of the most important domestic political goals of Biden, Disagreement about how much to spend, how to pay for it and even what constitutes infrastructure.
When asked if there was a good chance of a deal, Capito replied, "I think there is a chance. I wouldn't say good."
She rejected the idea that her next round of talks with Biden could be the bottom line for a bipartisan package. "This will be more of an ongoing conversation," she said.
Another Republican on Capito's negotiating team, Senator Roger Wicker, told reporters, "We need to keep talking."
The White House is aiming for a $ 1.7 trillion package that includes spending on roads, bridges, education, and home care, while Capito has tabled a more modest $ 928 billion proposal that Biden considered too small has dismissed.
"I work hard to find common ground with Republicans when it comes to the American job plan, but I refuse to raise taxes on Americans who earn less than $ 400,000 a year," Biden said on Tuesday on Twitter. "It is long time that the rich and corporations pay their fair share."
On Friday, the White House said Biden also plans to work with senators from both parties on a "more substantial package," signaling that the government is considering options beyond the Capito discussions.
A bipartisan group of senators continued to meet on a possible alternative plan worth nearly $ 900 billion. One of those lawmakers, Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, told reporters that his group's plan could come to the fore if Capito and Biden talks fail.
"We're going to pin exactly where we are," Republican Senator Mitt Romney, another member of the bipartisan group, told reporters.
The clock is ticking. Later that week, Biden is traveling on the first overseas tour of his presidency to attend a G7 summit in Cornwall, England.
Democrats are also aware of the risk of losing their slim majorities in one or both houses of Congress in next year's mid-term election, which would give Republicans the power to block most of Biden's agenda.
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