Monday, June 21, 2021

White House talks officially held with Capito-led group of Republicans

The decision to pivot from weeks of talks with Senate Republicans came after an abrupt five-minute phone call Tuesday afternoon between West Virginia Republican Biden and Capito. The White House and Capito’s office confirmed that Biden has ended talks.

Capito said in a statement, “While I appreciate President Biden’s willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept a very robust and targeted infrastructure package and instead , ended our discussion.” “However, this does not mean that bipartisanship is not possible.”

“After talking in good faith and making significant progress to get closer to what the president wanted, I am disappointed with his decision,” he said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Biden had informed Capito that “the latest offering from his group, in his view, does not meet our nation’s essential needs to restore our roads and bridges.” prepare us for our clean energy future, and create more jobs.”

An administration official said the Biden-Capito call was respectful, but clarified they were not going to a deal.

He expressed his gratitude for their efforts and good faith negotiations, but expressed disappointment that, while he was prepared to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, the Republican group only raised $150 in its proposed new investment. billion,” Saki said in the statement.

Psaki said Biden also talked about his bipartisan infrastructure proposal with West Virginia Democrat, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Cinema of Manchin, Arizona, and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

Psaki said the president had “urged him to continue his work with other Democrats and Republicans to develop a bipartisan proposal that he hopes will be more responsive to the country’s infrastructure needs.”

Capito said earlier on Tuesday that she was not associated with the group.

“He’s really different and different from what I’m going through,” she said. “I’m sticking with what I’ve got.”

However, according to an administration official, Biden and his team expect Capito to join the efforts of the bipartisan group.

According to the White House, Biden’s team will increase engagement with the Munchkin-led group over the course of this week, including plans for the president to engage directly in Europe. The cabinet secretary, who makes up Biden’s “Jobs cabinet,” will play a major role in discussions with White House aides Steve Richetti, Louisa Terrell and Brian Deez, according to a White House statement. Chief of Staff Ron Klein is also expected to conduct talks with Washington while Biden is in Europe.

The president left talks with Capito maintaining the view that they took place in good faith and sought from him not only a better understanding of his point of view, but a generally positive opinion, according to an administration source.

The official said White House officials see the Capito talks as simply dead in the water — with Biden making more concessions and looking for creative ways to meet GOP demands, particularly on the 2017 tax law. the officer said. The administration was of the view that the effort was not merely reciprocal.

Biden and Capito have been in frequent contact ever since the president proposed a comprehensive infrastructure plan. But talks between the two sides were pulled ahead of the White House Memorial Day deadline without significant success, putting pressure on some Democrats to go ahead with bipartisan talks.

Biden invited Capito to the White House last week and Offered to bring its price tag up to $1 trillion in new expenses. on Friday he Rejected a new counter offer Capito on behalf of Senate Republicans that included a $50 billion increase in spending. Biden told Capito that the new offering did not meet his policy goals.

Two administration sources indicated that ultimately, Biden’s request that the GOP group commit to significantly increasing funding was not something they could have done. One of the sources said Biden did not entertain the idea of ​​redeploying the Covid Relief Fund to finance the proposal, and another source said he did not feel he had received a substantial counterproposal in which those funds would be used. use is not included.

The White House statement said Biden also spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about the US jobs plan and budget process, in order to address the president’s economic priorities and tax reform plans. The legislation could go to the Senate floor to move forward. July.”

Capito indicated repeatedly this week that he wasn’t sure where the infrastructure talks were headed at this point.

And hours before he was scheduled to speak with Capito, Biden suggested the door was closing if any sort of bipartisan agreement was reached.

“I’m trying hard to find common ground with Republicans when it comes to the American Jobs Plan, but I refuse to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year to pay for it. It’s high time the rich and corporations pay their fair share,” Biden tweeted.

Some Democrats are pressuring the White House to move away from talks with Republicans, go it alone and pass a massive infrastructure plan with just Democratic votes. Illinois Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Monday he believes bipartisan talks on a massive infrastructure package have run their course.

House Democrats will begin preparing an infrastructure bill on Wednesday to be passed with or without Republican support.

This story has been updated on Tuesday with additional developments.

CNN’s Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.

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