Sen. Bill Cassidy said Republicans and Democrats are “a lot closer than you might think” on a bipartisan path for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, if the plan fits into a traditional definition of infrastructure.
“If you’re talking about a scope which is roads and bridges and internet and tunnels and airports and waterways, we can be pretty close,” the Louisiana Republican said on "Fox News Sunday." “If you’re talking about spending hundreds of billions of dollars to benefit public services unions, then we are far apart.”
Cassidy is part of the so-called Gang of 10 Republican senators working to reach compromise on infrastructure. There’s also a group of 10 Democrats working to find common ground, but the cohorts are trillions of dollars apart — mainly because Republicans want infrastructure to be more narrowly defined. And Republicans don’t like the $2 trillion price tag of Biden’s full plan.
“This is a staggering amount of spending, like someone with a new credit card,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on ABC’s "This Week."
Barrasso has hammered Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, calling inclusion of things such as child care “cradle to grave government.”
The Wyoming Republican said he could get behind a deal that focuses on what he calls "core infrastructure," like that covered in the $568 billion counteroffer by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).
“I believe there’s a deal to be had if we leave things out like the Green New Deal and recyclable cafeteria trays and climate justice,” Barrasso said. “Because $500 billion to $600 billion of infrastructure is a massive amount of infrastructure.”
Even as they complained about some elements of the Biden plan, Republicans still saw hope to work out a deal.
Democrats and Republicans have calls scheduled for this week, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." Portman said there’s "a better opportunity" to work with the White House on infrastructure than there was on Covid relief since it is typically a bipartisan issue.
"With Covid, a bunch of us went to the White House, made a proposal, and the president indicated he wanted to negotiate. But, unfortunately, the next morning, they changed their mind, and Chuck Schumer announced they were all going to do this by reconciliation, which knocks Republicans out of the game all together," Portman said of the Senate majority leader.
"So, let’s hope we don’t have a repeat of that because I think we can come up with a good bill that’s bipartisan, and one that actually will survive over time because it’ll be more sustainable with Republican and Democrat support."