Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and John Hoeven (R-ND) told President Joe Biden on Monday night that they are opposed to increasing the corporate tax rate to pay for his proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package as the President calls on Republicans to put forward an alternative plan by the middle of next month.
People familiar with the matter told Axios that the two Republican senators had expressed their opposition to an element of the proposal that suggested raising the corporate rate to 28 percent, during a bipartisan Oval Office meeting with the President on Monday.
“I am prepared to compromise,” Biden had said at the start of the more than an hourlong session with a group of Republican and Democratic senators and House members who previously served as mayors and governors.
Romney told The New York Times that during the meeting he had raised the possibility of letting state and local governments use money from the pandemic relief package to pay for infrastructure projects.
“He was in listening mode and was gracious to solicit our respective points of view,” Romney said of Biden. “I think they would like to work on a bipartisan basis. I think there’s a great deal of interest on the part of Republicans to improve our infrastructure, and the challenge is going to be how it’s paid for.”
In comments to the Washington Post, Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), who also took part in the session, called the meeting “cordial” and “professional,” and said that Biden presented arguments and data explaining why the corporate tax rate is too low to which Romney offered counterpoints that Biden appeared reluctant to negotiate on.
“He may not have said it, but I certainly got that impression,” Gimenez said.
The White House said in a statement after the meeting that the meeting had been a “productive exchange of ideas.”
“The Members of Congress engaged in a productive exchange of ideas, including components of the plan and how to pay for them. President Biden asked for their feedback and follow-up on proposals discussed in the meeting, while underscoring that inaction is not an option.”
Per the Post, Gimenez said the President had asked congressional Republicans to present a counterproposal to his plan by mid-May.
“I think that that, for him, would be a starting point for some kind of negotiation,” Gimenez said.