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Biden will 'change course' on $1.7T infrastructure bill if there's no progress, top aide says

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond said Sunday

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond said Sunday that President Joe Biden will not let GOP "inaction be the answer" to his infrastructure bill. Credit: Bloomberg / Al Drago

President Joe Biden will negotiate with Republicans in "good faith" over his $1.7 trillion infrastructure bill, a top White House aide said Sunday, but would "change course" if the talks went nowhere.

On Friday, Biden trimmed $550 billion off his original $2.3 trillion spending proposal in a counter-offer to Senate Republicans.

Cedric Richmond, a White House senior adviser, said the move from Biden was a "sincere effort" at bipartisanship during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

Richmond said the counterproposal "shows the willingness to negotiate in good faith and in a serious manner. And the real question is whether the Republicans will meet the effort that the president is showing."

In its counter offer, the White House lowered spending for highways and broadband, and moved spending for other programs to different bills.

"He wants a deal," said Richmond. "He wants it soon. But as there are meaningful negotiations going, taking place in a bipartisan manner, he's willing to let that play out. But, again, he will not let inaction be the answer. When it gets to the point where it looks that is inevitable, you will see him change course."

Republicans had countered Biden's first proposal with a $568 billion alternative. They have opposed the president's plan to raise taxes on corporations to fund the new investment and said many of the proposals did not constitute "infrastructure" initiatives.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has criticized the White House for the size of the plans, said Sunday that the parties were still "pretty far apart."

During an interview on ABC's "This Week," Collins said talks "should continue."

"It's important to note that there are some fundamental differences here, and at the heart of the negotiations is defining the scope of the bill. What is infrastructure?"

Republicans, she said, "tend to define infrastructure in terms of roads, bridges, seaports and airports and broadband. The Democratic definition seems to include social programs that have never been considered part of core infrastructure."

Collins also noted, "the other important area where we're far apart is still the money."

In March, Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act without any Republican votes, "We're talking about an enormous sum of money," Collins said of the two proposals.

Also Sunday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said Democrats and Republicans were making "meaningful progress" on a deal for comprehensive police reform.

But Booker, who is negotiating with Senate Republicans, said "we still have some work, a lot of work to do."

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