U.S. Senate Republicans aim for infrastructure counterproposal soon

FILE PHOTO: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds hearing on Regan nomination to be EPA administrator on Capitol Hill in Washington
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David Morgan and Susan Cornwell
·2 min read
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By David Morgan and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senate Republicans could produce their own "conceptual" counter-proposal to President Joe Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan this week, but their version could be less than a third of the size of the White House's, lawmakers said .

After discussing infrastructure with the White House, Senator Shelley Moore Capito told reporters on Tuesday that the Republican plan would include projects and means to pay for them and offer a contrast to a sweeping Biden proposal that Republicans oppose because of its size and proposed corporate tax hike.

"We need to settle on a conceptual sort of idea, and hopefully we'll do that in the next several days," the West Virginia Republican said. "Hopefully, by the end of the week."

Another Republican working with her, Senator Roger Wicker, said he thought the initial offer "might be somewhere south of $600 billion."

Wicker told reporters the Republican plan might be paid for at least in part by reallocating other funds that have not been spent. He also said, "There may be an effort to make the electric cars pay their fair share, which they are not doing under the current gas tax."

Biden has proposed an infrastructure plan that includes projects on roads, bridges and ports as well as addressing broadband access, climate change and human services including elder care. He would pay for the plan by raising the U.S. corporate income tax rate to 28% from 21%.

The president and his staff have held multiple discussions with bipartisan groups of lawmakers, including Capito, in hopes of winning Republican support and asked Republicans on Monday to produce a counter-proposal by mid-May.

Biden could need Republican support to move legislation though the Senate and House of Representatives, where Democrats hold slim majorities. Wicker said he did not expect every Republican to support the Republican offer, but he thought it possible to develop a bipartisan compromise that could get 70 to 80 votes in the 100-person Senate.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)