WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and several Republican senators unveiled their own infrastructure plan in hopes of finding compromise with President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.
Capito, R-W.Va., the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, spoke with reporters Thursday about the Republican Roadmap, an infrastructure package unveiled earlier Thursday at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol.
“Our purpose today is to say what our concepts are as Republicans as what infrastructure means, what our principles are as far as pay-fors, and then say to President Biden and his team and our Democratic colleagues that we’re ready to sit down and get to work on this,” Capito said. “Our biggest message that we want to put forward today is this is important to us.”
The Republican Roadmap would cost $568 billion over five years and is focused on traditional infrastructure projects. The plan would be paid for with user fees, extending user fees to owners of electric vehicles, and using unspent federal COVID-19 relief funds. The Republican Roadmap includes no tax increases and leaves the 2017 tax cuts put in place by former President Donald Trump.
“I think it’s important for you to realize that this is the largest infrastructure investment that Republicans have come forward with,” Capito said. “This is a robust package when you look at where we are focusing our infrastructure needs.”
The plan includes $299 billion for repair and construction of highways and bridges; $61 billion for public transportation; $20 billion for Amtrak and other rail projects; $35 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water and wastewater projects; $13 billion for highway and pipeline safety, as well as the transportation of hazardous materials; $17 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for improvements for ports and waterways; $44 billion for airport improvements; $65 billion for broadband expansion; and $14 billion for water storage.
Capito said Senate Republicans don’t necessarily see one bill dealing with infrastructure, but multiple bills. A clean drinking water infrastructure bill passed unanimously by the EPW Committee could be in front of senators as soon as next week.
Last month, Biden proposed a $2.3 trillion broad infrastructure. The plan represents spending proposals and tax credits over an eight-year period aimed at improving roads and bridges, drinking water systems, broadband expansion, public transportation, climate change and clean energy initiatives.
The plan also includes some unconventional proposals Republican said are not true infrastructure. It also provides funding for home care for seniors and the physically and developmentally disabled. The plan would be paid for by rolling back tax cuts put in place by Trump and raising corporate tax rates up to 28 percent to offset the spending over 15 years.
According to Politico, several Democratic senators were already criticizing the plan as too small Wednesday before any specific details were released. The Biden administration received the plan Thursday morning and had not released any comment. Republicans also met with Biden Monday to discuss infrastructure.
While some part of Biden’s infrastructure can be pushed through the U.S. Senate using reconciliation which only involves a simple majority, other parts of the plans will require 60 votes to move forward, meaning the support of Senate Republicans will be needed. Capito hopes that Democrats are more willing to work in a bipartisan manner this time.
“Through other members of the Senate, through the President himself, there have been overt signals that carving out the hard infrastructure part of a bill would be something they would at least take a serious look at,” Capito said.
“Over the last several weeks, the President has said ‘Hey Republican, give me a plan and let’s look at what it might be.’ I’m taking that as a signal of wanting to go a different direction.”