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Capito says position with Biden weakened when bipartisan group made offer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito says she believes her position to negotiate with President Joe Biden on an infrastructure package was weakened when a bipartisan group of Senators also offered a plan.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Capito, speaking Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline,” said the news of the proposal from the bipartisan group came about 10 days before Biden “pulled the plug on me.”

“I don’t think it was helpful in my negotiations if there’s somebody else out there who is saying they have more money in their plan or they are going to offer more,” Capito said. “That deflated my ability, I think, to really move forward.”

When Biden ended negotiations with Capito and her group before he left for Europe earlier this week he said talks would continue with the bipartisan group which includes Senator Joe Manchin. Capito said Thursday she’s not upset with Manchin.

“I’ll say this. I saw him on Sunday news saying he’s supporting my efforts and wants to see me be successful,” Capito said.

Manchin has been pushing a bipartisan plan based on traditional infrastructure. He didn’t support the original Biden plan.

Capito said she could have brought up to 25 Republican votes in the Senate with a compromise plan. She said she’s not sure the group Manchin is in can do that.

“I don’t know if they can get the critical numbers. I’m not sure how much they can bring. I know they have no taxes in their plan. I don’t know. If they can bridge that gap more power to them,” Capito said.

Capito said Biden did add what she called four major tax increases in the final weeks of the negotiations.

“He came back with a host of new taxes after we said we’re not going to go there,” she said.

Biden was offering $1trillion in new spending for infrastructure and Republicans $330 billion. Capito’s group wanted to use about $575 billion in reappropriated COVID-19 money that states haven’t used to make up the gap between the Highway Trust Fund and topline spending. Biden wanted an increase in the Corporate Net Income Tax from 21% to 28%.

Despite those differences, Capito said she remained hopeful a deal would be reached.

“I think the most optimistic I felt was when the president himself was negotiating in the room,” Capito said Thursday. “Subsequent negotiations continued with staff and the big damper came on then, but sometimes that happens.”

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