Politico

Raimondo bearish on GOP infrastructure alternative

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was unenthusiastic on Wednesday about the fledgling GOP alternative infrastructure proposal, saying it wouldn’t go far enough to meet the country’s needs.

The Biden administration has proposed a multiyear, $2.2 trillion spending package that would touch on huge swaths of the American economy, including areas not traditionally considered to be infrastructure.

Republicans and some moderate Democrats have expressed reservations about the price tag and how the White House intends to pay for it, and a handful of hopeful dealmakers in the Senate are developing a counteroffer that would land between $600 and $800 billion.

“Six hundred billion dollars is not what the country needs — the country needs $2 trillion” Raimondo said during a Playbook Live interview. “It’s not nearly enough.”

The GOP proposition, which has not yet been formally introduced, has already drawn a chilly reception from several leading Senate Democrats, raising the prospect that the effort might have a difficult time generating the bipartisan consensus that its backers are shooting for.

Still, Raimondo was more receptive than Democrats like Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — who labeled it “totally anemic” and an “insult” — and she said that the Republican bid was welcome as a “starting point for further negotiation.”

She also cast doubt on the idea of dividing the Biden administration’s proposal into a slimmer package that, in theory, could garner the 60-plus votes needed to clear a Senate filibuster and then advance the rest of it via budget reconciliation without needing Republican support. The multipronged approach has been promoted by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close ally of the president, among others.

“It’s viable but not ideal,” Raimondo said. “It’s not where we’re thinking at the moment.”

She also said some of the more controversial parts of the president’s proposal, such as hundreds of billions of dollars for the home care sector, were critical to reducing poverty and promoting equity — two stated pillars of the Biden administration.

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