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U.S. Senate Republicans to meet on White House infrastructure talks

WorldMay 24, 2021 08:20PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) asks questions during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to examine the FY 2022 budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans are due to meet on Tuesday to determine their next steps on bipartisan infrastructure talks following last week's White House offer to pare down President Joe Biden's sweeping $2.25 trillion proposal to $1.7 trillion.

One of the lawmakers, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso, said on Monday the group of six lawmakers would hold a Tuesday morning meeting, as they approach an unofficial end-of-May White House deadline to show progress in the talks.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia, who is leading the Republican infrastructure effort, said her negotiating team would discuss possible next steps but offered no details about options.

"I'm not ready to call it quits, I can tell you that," Capito told reporters.

Senator Roy Blunt, another member of Capito's team, spoke favorably about making a new offer to the Biden administration. "I think there'd be merit to that," Blunt, of Missouri, told reporters.

The sides appear to be far apart and struggling to agree on a basic definition of infrastructure. If talks stall, Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress could decide to move forward without Republicans.

Biden's sweeping proposal includes traditional infrastructure projects on roads and bridges but also seeks to rechart the direction of the U.S. economy with an additional focus on fighting climate change and boosting social programs.

Republicans want an approach limited to roads, bridges, airports, waterways and broadband access. They unveiled an initial proposal costing $568 billion.

Republicans expressed disappointment at the slimmed-down $1.7 trillion offer unveiled by the White House last week. They noted it still contained social spending provisions and tax hikes on U.S. corporations that they have rejected.

Other members of the Republican infrastructure team include Senators Roger Wicker, Mike Crapo and Pat Toomey.

U.S. Senate Republicans to meet on White House infrastructure talks

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