President Biden said Monday that he’s willing to compromise on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal as he hosted congressional Democrats and Republicans at the White House to talk about a path forward.
“As I indicated earlier, I am prepared to compromise,” the president said in the Oval Office. “It’s a big package, but there’s a lot of needs.”
The Democrats on the guest list were Sens. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, along with Reps. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Charlie Crist of Florida and Norma Torres of California.
Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, was also slated to attend.
The Republicans were Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Mitt Romney of Utah, along with Reps. Carlos Giménez of Florida and Kay Granger of Texas.
All the members are former governors and/or mayors.
“They know what it’s like to make things work, to make sure that you get things done,” the president said.
Mr. Biden said they planned to talk about “user fee” proposals that could theoretically cover some of the cost, though the White House has said increasing the gas tax should not be on the table for discussion.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, one of the administration’s leading public advocates for the proposal, also attended.
Republicans have said the package is much too costly and that the administration is stretching the traditional definition of “infrastructure” beyond all reasonable bounds by including billions of dollars for priorities like caregiving and climate change.
Republicans, and some Democrats, have also rejected Mr. Biden’s proposed $2.5 trillion in corporate tax increases he wants to use to pay for the plan over time.
Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who is a top ally of the president, had suggested over the weekend that lawmakers could pass a bipartisan plan totaling around $800 billion for roads and bridges and then Democrats could tackle a second, more expansive plan without Republican support if necessary.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier Monday that the president is open to different procedural methods for getting something passed.
“We’re quite open to a range of mechanisms for agreed-upon legislation moving forward - smaller packages, pieces being peeled off,” Ms. Psaki said.