US President Joe Biden has said that he already had a telephone call with a Republican during which they discussed the White House's ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
He further stressed that Congress "should act" on his plan and insisted that the tax rises required for it will not slow down the American economy, as critics of his proposals claim. Biden claimed that the massive investment in US infrastructure will create 19 million jobs in the country which is currently suffering from a surge in unemployment caused by the pandemic.
"All I'm asking corporate America is to pay their fair share. It will not slow the economy, it will make the economy function better, it will create more energy", Biden claimed.
So far, the Republicans have so been the main critics of the plan to boost corporation tax from 21 percent to 28 percent. Biden also announced that the plan will ensure that big companies are paying rather than evading their taxes. The GOP Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell vowed on 1 April that he is unlikely to support the bill if it includes the tax rise and if it threatens to inflate national debt.
The Democrat president condemned critics of his plans, suggesting that the GOP should not stand in the way of projects whereby hospitals receive investment or the water systems in American cities are fixed, omitting the fact that the Republicans only oppose the means of paying for these changes.
Republicans Sceptical About Biden's Pledge to Uphold Bipartisan Spirit
Biden gave five members of his Cabinet the responsibility of "selling" his infrastructure plan to the US citizens, including the Republicans. He alleged during his address on 2 April that Republican voters themselves will urge GOP lawmakers to adopt the legislation because of its ability to resolve the country's infrastructure issues – from upgrading and repairing roads and bridges, to providing fast internet access to rural areas.
The US president also repeatedly vowed to include the Republican Party in all major legislative decisions. But according to several unnamed Republican aides, who spoke to the Hill, the party is sceptical about the president keeping his promise. One of them pointed out that the Democrats have already suggested they would use the budget reconciliation mechanism, a way of forcefully ending the opposition party's filibuster, if they fail to get the support of GOP senators. One Republican aide pointed out that that was hardly a sign of being prepared to compromise.
"This is about as partisan as it gets. It’s the opposite of bipartisan, especially if you move it through reconciliation", the Senate GOP aide told The Hill.
Democrats' preparations for ending a potential Republican filibuster were also condemned by Utah Republican Mitt Romney, who insisted that the 50-50 split in the Senate hardly gives the party a "mandate to go it alone" even if it has the tie-breaking vote of the vice-president.
Last time the Democrats introduced a major piece of legislation, the COVID-19 relief bill in March, the party ignored the calls of the GOP to scale down the spending under the bill – from $1.9 trillion plan to $600 billion. However, the Democrats chose to push the bill through the Senate by a narrow majority, ignoring protests from the Republicans. This behaviour only contributed to the scepticism among GOP lawmakers about Biden's promises of bilateral discussions of the infrastructure bill, another Republican aide told The Hill.
"This is not a good-faith effort and no Republicans were consulted in advance of putting together this plan. They have no intention of working with Republicans. They can have all the ‘hey we want to brief you-on our plan’ phone calls, but that’s not bipartisanship", the second aide concluded.