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Biden to meet with congressional leaders as infrastructure talks continue

▶ Watch Video: White House meeting with top congressional leaders amid push to sell massive infrastructure package

Washington — President Biden will meet with the top four leaders in Congress on Wednesday as negotiations over the president’s multi-trillion dollar infrastructure agenda continue. This is Mr. Biden’s first meeting with the leaders as a group since he was inaugurated in January.

The meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is expected to focus on Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion two-pronged plan, which is divided between a $2.3 trillion proposal on physical infrastructure and jobs and a $1.8 trillion measure on health care, education and child care.

Republicans have pushed back against Mr. Biden’s proposal, questioning both the price tag and the inclusion of provisions apparently unrelated to “traditional” infrastructure such as roads, bridges, transportation and broadband expansion. They also oppose Mr. Biden’s plan to pay for his infrastructure package, which would include raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and negotiating a new global minimum tax for multinational corporations.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has floated raising the corporate tax rate to 25% instead, but it’s unclear whether this would garner sufficient support from Republicans.

A group of Republican senators introduced a $568 billion counteroffer last month, spearheaded by Senator Shelley Moore Capito. The GOP proposal includes $299 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion to expand broadband, $61 billion for public transit systems and $20 billion for railroads, as well as funding to revamp the nation’s ports, airports and water infrastructure.

Capito said on Friday that the $568 billion plan “is not our final offer.” McConnell also said Monday that he would be willing to consider a package between $600 and $800 billion, signaling some openness to negotiation among Republicans.

Mr. Biden has met with a number of lawmakers from both parties in recent days. On Thursday, he will meet with a group of Republicans who helped formulate the Republican counteroffer, including Capito and Senators John Barrasso, Roy Blunt, Mike Crapo and Roger Wicker. But Senator John Thune, the Republican whip, told reporters on Tuesday that it was not enough to simply meet with GOP lawmakers.

“I would like to see the president sit down and express more than just a willingness to listen, but a willingness to take action to work in a bipartisan way to try and get a deal,” Thune said.

The meeting with Mr. Biden also comes amid a major shakeup in House Republican leadership. There will be a vote to recall Representative Liz Cheney as GOP conference chair on Wednesday, after Cheney repeatedly criticized former President Trump and cautioned Republicans against downplaying the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 by a mob of Trump supporters.

On Sunday, McCarthy publicly backed Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York, who is vying to be Cheney’s replacement, to join House GOP leadership. The move has earned some criticism from Senate Republicans, but McConnell has largely remained silent on the issue.



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