Washington — Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine advocated Sunday for a "targeted, responsible" infrastructure package with bipartisan backing as a group of senators attempts to broker a deal with the White House to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges and waterways.
"We have five Republicans and five Democrats who got together to hammer out the framework for a targeted, responsible infrastructure package," Collins said in an interview on "Face the Nation."
Discussions on an infrastructure bill between the White House and a group of Republican senators led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito broke down last week after the two sides failed to reach consensus on the scope of a plan and how to pay for it. But on Thursday, a group of senators composed of five Republicans and five Democrats that launched their own negotiations, of which Collins is a part, announced they reached a deal.
The plan includes $579 billion in new spending over five years, a significant increase from the offer by the GOP senators, and is focused specifically on physical infrastructure. Collins said Sunday the package would not include a gas tax increase nor roll back the changes made in the 2017 tax reform bill approved by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed by then-President Donald Trump.
"One way that it differs is that it includes provisions for resiliency, for strengthening the materials that we use to build our roads and bridges and to strengthen our electrical infrastructure," she said. "It includes some energy provisions that are important to the administration and to many of our members as well."
To pay for their measure, Collins detailed three mechanisms: an infrastructure financing authority; repurposing funding approved by Congress in March for COVID-19 relief; and a provision for electric vehicles for use of roads and bridges. Mr. Biden, however, has proposed raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% to cover the cost of his plan, though Republicans balk at that suggestion.
"Right now, they are literally free riders because they're not paying any gas tax," she said.
While Mr. Biden's initial sweeping infrastructure plan included child care and elder care, Collins said the plan from the bipartisan group of senators focuses specifically on traditional infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, airports, seaports, waterways and broadband. While the Maine senator said Congress should examine barriers to the workforce and the need for improving home health care, those issues should be addressed in the future.
"We can look at these issues, but they are not infrastructure and they should be considered separately. And I believe they will be," she said.