WASHINGTON (AP) — With an appeal to think big, President Joe Biden is promoting his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan directly to Americans, summoning public support to push past the Republicans lining up against the massive effort they sum up as big taxes, big spending and big government.
“They know we need it,” Biden said of the Republicans as he returned to Washington on Monday.
The standoff almost ensures a months-long slog as Congress hunkers down to begin drafting legislation and the White House keeps the door open to working across the aisle with Republicans, hoping that continued public attention will drum up support.
A core dividing line is Biden’s effort to pay for infrastructure by undoing Donald Trump’s tax break for corporations, a signature achievement of the Trump White House and its partners in Congress.
Seizing on Democratic divisions, Republicans have signaled zero interest in undoing the tax cuts they approved with Trump, and instead prefer a smaller infrastructure package paid for by user fees on drivers or other public-private partnerships that share the costs.
Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of Senate GOP leadership, said Sunday a smaller infrastructure package of about $615 billion, or 30% of what Biden is proposing, could draw bipartisan support.
Administration officials have encouraged Republicans to talk more fully about what they dislike and would do instead, under the opinion that a battle of ideas will only help Biden gain support with voters.
Yet the White House has a fundamental disagreement with Republicans on the definition of infrastructure, such that any outreach is unlikely to yield an agreement.
Biden is banking on polling that suggests his infrastructure package is popular among voters of both parties, making it easier to bypass any GOP blockade on Capitol Hill.