Top GOP negotiator Capito says Biden broke off infrastructure talks

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The top Republican negotiator working with the White House to craft a bipartisan infrastructure deal says President Biden abruptly ended talks on Tuesday as some Democrats urge him to try to ram through a large bill without Republicans.

“I spoke with the president this afternoon, and he ended our infrastructure negotiations,” Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WVa.) said in a prepared statement.

“As Republicans, we believe in our nation’s infrastructure, which is why our negotiating team—which consisted of the Ranking Members from the committees of jurisdiction—consistently worked in good faith with President Biden and were optimistic that we could reach a bipartisan agreement for the sake of the country.”

Although talks progressed for weeks, there were key sticking points. Republicans refused to consider tax hikes to pay for Biden’s legislation and demanded that he remove social spending that they said was unrelated to infrastructure.

Capito said that “[d]espite the progress we made in our negotiations, the president continued to respond with offers that included tax increases as his pay for, instead of several practical options that would have not been harmful to individuals, families, and small businesses.”

The White House did not immediately comment on Capito’s statement.

Biden met in the Oval Office last week with Capito and they spoke again Friday on the phone.

Biden initially proposed a $2.3 trillion plan in March. But Republicans led by Capito last week presented a $928 billion counteroffer after Biden came down to $1.7 trillion. Republicans wanted to pay for some of the bill with unused COVID-19 funds.

Some Democrats want to ram Biden’s large original package through Congress without any Republican votes using budget reconciliation — as they did in March to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

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