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Biden to host GOP West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito as bipartisan infrastructure talks continue

President Joe Biden on Wednesday will host Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia at the White House as Republicans and the White House continue infrastructure negotiations but remain far apart on new spending and how to pay for it.

“The President is looking forward to hosting Senator Capito on Wednesday afternoon at the White House, where they will continue their bipartisan negotiations about investing in our middle class and economic growth through infrastructure,” a White House official told CNN.

Punchbowl News was first to report the planned Wednesday meeting. Two White House officials told CNN that Biden will travel on Wednesday to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, presumably after the meeting with Capito. First lady Jill Biden’s 70th birthday is on Thursday, a White House official said, and the President is scheduled to return to the White House Friday.

Capito is leading the Senate GOP’s negotiating team and is the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Last week, Senate Republicans made a $928 billion counteroffer after Biden came down from his original $2.25 trillion price tag to a $1.7 trillion proposal.

Biden has indicated he would be open to discussing a $1 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan, senators have told CNN. But even after trading a couple of counteroffers, Republicans and the White House still have sharply different views about the size and scope of the proposal and how it would be paid for.

The President has said he would prefer to strike a bipartisan deal on the proposal, but he has also made clear he is not willing to sharply scale back the full scope of the plan.

Biden’s plan focuses on rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and shifting to greener energy over the next eight years.

In their offer last week, Republicans said they wanted to pay for the plan using unspent Covid-19 relief funding, user fees from electric cars and the existing gas tax. But the White House argues much of the those Covid-19 relief funds have already been spent and has expressed resistance to user fees.

Biden has proposed hiking corporate taxes in order to pay for the proposal, but Republicans are strongly opposed to the idea and have said raising taxes to fund the plan is a “red line” for them.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said over the weekend that there needs to be “a clear direction” on infrastructure talks by the time Congress returns from its recess on June 7.

Buttigieg told CNN on Sunday that though Republicans “philosophically seem to agree that $1 trillion investment is the kind of thing we need to do right now,” there is still a lot of “daylight” between the two sides.

Since Biden first proposed his infrastructure plan, Republicans and the White House have disagreed on its scope and the definition of infrastructure. Biden argues infrastructure touches every pillar of American life and includes education, health care, energy and manufacturing. Republicans argue infrastructure is confined to things like roads, bridges and more traditional transportation projects.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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