President Joe Biden is open to making changes to his massive infrastructure package as he meets with lawmakers from both parties, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday as White House officials made their case for the ambitious legislation.
The president wants lawmakers to act on the $2.3 trillion package by Memorial Day and has “an open mind” about possible modifications, Buttigieg said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The sweeping proposals call for a wide range of infrastructure projects from modernizing bridges and highways to building electric vehicle charging stations.
“Of course, a plan gets better when you get input, from our party, from their party,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg backpedaled a bit on his previous estimate of how many jobs the spending would create.
Last week, he claimed it would create 19 million jobs, citing a report from Moody’s Analytics, but the actual number was 2.7 million, Fox News host Chris Wallace said.
“The bottom line is, it’s going to add jobs and this is a direct refutation of people who are saying otherwise,” Buttigieg responded. “So yeah, you’re right, I should be very precise. The difference in jobs that that particular analysis suggests is 2.7 million more. That is a great place to be.”
Included in the package is $20 billion to redress inequities caused by past highway projects, many of them in communities of color, with details still being worked out.
Some Republicans have said the legislation includes items that shouldn’t be called infrastructure.
They just lack imagination, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“What is infrastructure? Historically, it’s been: What makes the economy move?” she said.
“And it’s not static. In 1990, we wouldn’t have thought that broadband was infrastructure because it wasn’t on the scene yet. But we of course need broadband in every pocket of the country.”
Since Democrats passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package by the slimmest of margins, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has vowed to fight the infrastructure bill “every step of the way.”
But Sen. John Thune indicated not all party members agree with that approach.
“If they’re interested in roads and bridges and perhaps broadband, there’s a deal to be had there,” the South Dakota Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.”
But he blasted the current package as “a massive expansion of government” and denounced its proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%.
“I think the tax increases that are included here would be very crushing for the economy,” Thune said.