Biden pushes for compromise amid hostility to $2.3tn infrastructure plan

GOP increasingly suspicious of president’s proposal in face of poor employment figures

US president Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty

US president Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty

 

US president Joe Biden will host top Democrat and Republican lawmakers in the White House today for discussions on his proposed infrastructure plan, as he aims to sign the proposed Bill into law by the summer.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer will attend the meeting along with the two top Republicans in congress – Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday that Mr Biden’s objective was to find areas “where we can find common ground and where we can work together” in order to introduce policies “to benefit people whether they voted for him or not”.

But Mr Biden is facing a growing chorus of Republican voices resistant to his efforts to invest more money in the US economy following disappointing jobs numbers last week. Unemployment figures for April show that the US added 266,000 jobs last month, a sharp drop from the 770,000 jobs added in March.  The data has fuelled Republican suspicions that the Biden administration is providing an economic stimulus that the US economy does not need, while also raising questions as to whether unemployment payments are discouraging people from getting back to work.

While Mr Biden has already signed his $1.9 trillion “American rescue plan” into law, he is trying to convince Republicans to support his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said this week that he believed a more suitable price tag is $600 billion-$800 billion.

Compromise push

Following today’s meeting Mr Biden is scheduled to meet six Republican senators on Thursday to discuss a possible compromise package.

The president has also been meeting individually with Senate Democrats who are lukewarm about his proposal. Should Democrats try to push their legislation through the senate using a budget reconciliation procedure, they will need all 50 Democrats to support the plan, with vice-president Kamala Harris casting the tie vote.

Mr Biden met with Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema on Tuesday, who has expressed doubts about some aspects of the Bill. On Monday he met senators Tom Carper, chairman of the senate environmental and public works committee, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has raised questions about some of the tax changes proposed by the White House to help fund the infrastructure plan.

Following the meeting, the White House said Mr Biden and Mr Manchin had discussed “their shared goal of rebuilding our country, especially when it comes to investing in rural communities”.

Wind farm

As the president prepares to make the case for more investment in infrastructure, his administration yesterday approved the US’s first major offshore wind farm. The facility, off the coast of Massachusetts, will include 84 wind turbines, which could generate enough power for 400,000 homes.

“A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States, ” said interior secretary Deb Haaland.

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said that the chief executive of Colonial Pipeline had indicated that its operations should be fully online by today after last Friday’s cyberattack, though it will take some days for full service to resume. She said that a “supply crunch” was expected in some areas of the southeast, amid reports of rising fuel prices in some parts of the United States.