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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today joined Fox News Sunday to discuss the latest on infrastructure negotiations with the White House.
ON STATUS OF NEGOTIATIONS: “When we went to the Oval Office, six of us, to talk about a bipartisan infrastructure package, the president basically tasked us to come back with something close to $1 trillion in areas and the scope that we as Republicans feel constitutes infrastructure. Also, we could spread it over an eight-year period of time. And that's exactly what we have done. And we’ve got a great basis for this because we just passed a surface transportation bill unanimously out of my committee with Senator Carper as the chairman. So, I think we are building those blocks towards a really good, solid infrastructure package that has bipartisan support. So, we’re responding to what the president has said. He told me on the phone just the day before yesterday, ‘let's get this done.’ And, I think that means that he has—his heart is in it.”
ON DEFINING INFRASTRUCTURE: “Well, we disagree on the definition of infrastructure and we've been working with the president to bring it back to the physical core idea of infrastructure that we’ve worked so well on in the past. Whether that’s road and bridges, waterways, ports, lead pipes, transit, airports, and also the new infrastructure, which we must have everywhere—broadband. Those are great categories, I think, that we can work together on. I think it is so easy to say, ‘let's throw everything in,’ and I think that’s what the president did initially. Human infrastructure, social infrastructure, great things to talk about, things that we need to address—daycare, senior care, all those items. But, that's not what we consider physical infrastructure on modernizing our transportation system to meet the next century challenges, and that's where I think we need to concentrate our effort at this point.”
ON PAY FORS: “The tax cuts of 2017 led to the most booming economy that we had pre-pandemic. Here in West Virginia, wages up, more diversity in the workforce, more people working. It was working in terms of spreading out the economic growth all throughout all sectors of our economy. I’m not going to vote to overturn those, but I can tell you, we do have a plan. We have put over the course of the last year and a half, trillions of dollars into COVID relief and much of that is unspent. We say reprogram that. The administration has already reprogrammed about $2.5 billion into Health and Human Services to help with migrant children. So, we know they’re not opposed to reprogramming COVID dollars and rescue dollars. Let's take a lot of those dollars, for instance, the unemployment that states are no longer extending into $300. Let's take those dollars and devote them to something that’s core infrastructure. That is part of our plan as well.
“We also have user fees in there, because there’s no reason that folks who have electric cars or hybrids, who used the roads, there's no reason that they shouldn't—because they don’t buy gasoline, don’t pay gas tax, which is traditional resource to pay for those, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t participate… We all know when you raise taxes in one place, it’s felt everywhere. And, with the stagnation of our economy, we saw slow job growth last month, let's make sure that we get everything reopen and the economy fully going full steam.”
ON GETTING TO A COMPROMISE: “I think we can get to real compromise, absolutely, because we're both still in the game. The president told me himself that, ‘let's get this done.’ We realize this is not easy. I think we bring every idea that’s on the table into the negotiations to see how we can achieve this and get it across the threshold.”
ON BIPARTISANSHIP: “And I think there is a hunger for bipartisanship. The president stood on the Capitol steps and said he’s the president of everybody, represents Republicans and Democrats. He has expressed to me and to our group numerous times his desire to work with us and to negotiate a package. I think that's what we see and, in fact, we are inching towards one another. I understand there's a deadline here. I understand at some point, if we don't get there, it—but it won’t be for trying. It won’t be because we didn’t try. And it’s worth it. It’s worth it to show this country we can work together. We can reach compromise for the good of everybody.”
On Thursday, Senators Capito, Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance; John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Rules and Administration, offered the White House another infrastructure counteroffer.
The counteroffer delivers on much of what President Joe Biden provided in his feedback during the group’s Oval Office meeting, while still focusing on core infrastructure investments. As evidenced by the work on bipartisan drinking water and surface transportation infrastructure bills, Congress can work in a bipartisan fashion on these priorities and deliver real results.
Details of the counteroffer can be viewed here.
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