- Biden’s talks with Senate Republicans broke down on Tuesday after more than a month.
- Schumer said Democrats are looking to pass infrastructure spending alone down the road.
- The White House is turning to a new working group that is eyeing stimulus money to pay for infrastructure.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Senate Democrats are starting to signal they are prepared to ditch Republicans on infrastructure, as the Biden administration’s talks with the GOP collapsed without a deal.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats were preparing to use reconciliation, a tactic to approve certain bills with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate.
“We all know as a caucus we will not be able to do all the things that the country needs in a totally bipartisan way,” he said at a weekly news conference. “So at the same time, we are pursuing the pursuit of reconciliation.”
Hours later, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the chief negotiator for Republicans, announced her talks with President Joe Biden broke down.
“I spoke with the president this afternoon, and he ended our infrastructure negotiations,” Capito said in a statement, adding she was “disappointed” in the decision.
“Throughout our negotiations, we engaged respectfully, fully, and very candidly — delivering several serious counteroffers that each represented the largest infrastructure investment Republicans have put forth,” she said.
The West Virginia Republican met with Biden twice in the Oval Office since last month, and both sides were unable to strike an agreement after nearly six weeks of back-and-forth discussions. They were never close to bridging differences on the size and scope of a plan, or on how to pay for it.
Biden was seeking at least $1 trillion in new spending, a significant cut from the initial $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan he unveiled in August. Capito’s latest offer included only $300 billion — a $700 billion gap.
Now, the Biden administration’s attention is likely to turn to another bipartisan working group that includes Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana,
Biden also called Cassidy on Tuesday in a sign of the White House’s new approach.
—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) June 8, 2021
Cassidy told Insider earlier on Tuesday that some of the group’s plan could be financed with money from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law.
“Dollars that have not been used that are still out there — and won’t be used for years — seem like a logical place to go,” he told Insider. The Louisiana Republican also ruled out there being any funding for caregiving in the proposal, saying that goes beyond the scope of infrastructure.
This story will be updated.