Politics & Policy

Cornyn Suggests GOP Could Back $800 Billion Infrastructure Bill

Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., on February 22, 2021. (Demetrius Freeman/Reuters)

Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) on Sunday said he and his Republican colleagues could back an infrastructure bill of around $800 billion, compromising with Democrats who are pushing President Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan.

Republicans have argued that Biden’s bill is too expensive and includes too many non-infrastructure-related expenditures.

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, in response to a question about whether he could support an infrastructure package of around $800 billion, Cornyn said: “There is a core infrastructure bill that we could pass…So let’s do it and leave the rest for another day and another fight.”

The Texas Republican’s comments came one day before Biden is set to meet with lawmakers to push his own plan.

Meanwhile, also on Fox News Sunday, Senator Chris Coons (D., Del.), a longtime Biden ally, suggested that Democrats should attempt to reach a bipartisan agreement with GOP lawmakers on elements of the president’s infrastructure plan before moving forward to a second, larger package that Democrats pass along party lines.

“Then we show our people that we can solve their problems” in a bipartisan way, Coons said. “I think in the next few weeks we should roll up our sleeves and sit down and find ways that we can support to make these critically needed investments.”

Democrats could choose to approve the package without Republican support, as they did with Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID response bill. However, Democrats have said they hope to reach a bipartisan agreement rather than relying on budget reconciliation again to bypass the 60-vote threshold most legislation needs to advance in the Senate.

While the reconciliation process would enable Democrats to pass the legislation with just a simple majority in the evenly divided Senate, it would also likely prevent them from including some parts of Biden’s plan, such as worker protections, which would not qualify as a budget-related measure.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that Biden will meet with lawmakers to discuss his sweeping infrastructure plan on Monday, which includes “highways, drinking water systems, broadband and the care economy.”

However, Republicans have been critical of the inclusion of certain measures in the bill, including $400 billion toward caring for senior and disabled Americans, which they argue should not be considered infrastructure. GOP lawmakers have also expressed concern over the president’s plan to hike corporate taxes to offset the cost of his bill. They have said increasing the corporate rate from 21 percent to 28 percent could slow job creation.

Some GOP lawmakers have instead suggested raising user fees, such as the gas tax. While some Democrats have expressed support for raising the gas tax, Biden has indicated he opposes such an increase.

Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said last week that he would work to pass Biden’s plan.

“Our roads, bridges, highways, public transit, airports, housing, and electric grid are all in need of an overhaul,’’ he wrote in a tweet last week. “I will work…to pass the #AmericanJobsPlan—a big, bold bill that will create jobs, invest in infrastructure, and help combat climate change.”

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