Republicans Propose Funding Infrastructure With Unused COVID Relief

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Republicans Propose Funding Infrastructure With Unused COVID Relief
The White House says Senate Republicans' infrastructure offer could “imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals.”
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Senate Republicans Thursday released their latest counter-offer to President Biden’s $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan. 

“We believe that this counter offer delivers on what President Biden told us in the Oval Office,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the lead Republican negotiator in the Senate. 

The White House acknowledged Republicans’ compromise, but announced in a statement the counteroffer didn’t go far enough, making the case for more money to pay for things like veterans hospitals, rail upgrades, and clean water. 

Serious disagreements remain on how to pay for the bill, with Republicans wanting to pull funds from previous Covid relief bills, previously a nonstarter for the White House.

In a statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the move could “imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals.”

“We should also be clear that there are simply not hundreds of billions of dollars in Covid-relief funds available to repurpose,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the Principal Deputy Press Secretary told reporters Wednesday.

“If the White House is saying if that money has been spent, then they need to show us that,” Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania countered Thursday morning. 

Biden would pay for his plan with tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy, which multiple Republican negotiators have said are off the table.

“What makes them think we want to undo the tax reform which gave us the greatest economy of our lifetime?” Toomey said. 

Republican leadership signaled negotiations will continue, but may pause for a week, as Senators depart Washington for the Memorial Day weekend. 

“We’re going to keep talking,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNBC Thursday.“And I understand that the president is willing to keep talking,” he added.