The White House is evaluating a $568 billion Republican counterproposal to President Joe Biden's sprawling $2.25 trillion infrastructure package, and sees it as a starting point for negotiations.
White House aides plan to look into the details of the proposal and discuss it with congressional staff in the coming days, press secretary Jen Psaki said. Biden plans to invite members to the White House for further talks after his address to Congress next week, she said.
"We certainly welcome any good faith effort and certainly see this as that, but there are a lot of details to discuss and a lot of exchanges of ideas to happen over the coming days," Psaki said.
The package details what Republicans believe should be counted as infrastructure, while Biden's proposal includes funds to invest in care for children and the elderly as well as money to promote the production and purchase of electric vehicles. The package is roughly a quarter of the size of Biden's plan, it calls for nearly double the amount of money to be spent on roads and bridges.
In total, the package calls for $299 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband infrastructure, $61 billion for public transit systems, $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater, $44 billion for airports, $20 billion for rail systems, $17 billion for ports and inland waterways, $14 billion for water storage and $13 billion for safety purposes.
The proposal also calls for the tax cuts passed under former President Donald Trump to be kept intact and to repurpose unspent federal funding passed as part of Covid-19 relief packages for infrastructure spending.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., called the infrastructure proposal "the most robust plan that we ever put forward as Republicans."
"And I think that the American people want to see us working together," she said at a press conference Thursday announcing the plan.
Initially, Capito, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee and the GOP senator who spearheaded the effort, said the "sweet spot" for bipartisan agreement on infrastructure would carry a price tag of $600 billion to $800 billion, which other Republicans thought was too high. She later distanced herself from that number.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said at the press conference that "$568 billion is a very, very generous offer in dealing with infrastructure."
"We think a number of our Democratic colleagues will want to negotiate with us," he said. "We're ready to start this afternoon."
Biden's package, announced last month, would put forth $155 billion to repair roads and bridges, $80 billion to fix Amtrak's repair backlog, $40 billion to improve public housing and $111 billion to replace the country's lead pipes so drinking water is not contaminated. Additionally, it contains $42 billion for ports and airports, $100 billion to improve public school buildings and $180 billion to be invested in research and development.
The infrastructure push comes after Biden enacted a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus bill into law. That bill was passed with only Democratic support. Republicans pitched a compromise bill that was much smaller in scale at $618 billion.
Earlier this month, an NPR/PBS/Marist poll found that 56 percent of U.S. adults support Biden's infrastructure plan while just 34 percent said they oppose it.