Biden holds fresh round of bipartisan infrastructure talks as Republicans eye smaller package

President Joe Biden held a fresh round of talks with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday, as he and Republicans clash over the scope and size of an infrastructure proposal.  

With Republicans seeking to pare back Biden’s more-than-$2 trillion plan, the president met with four members of the GOP — as well as six Democratic lawmakers. All attendees were former mayors or governors, whom the White House says “understand firsthand the impact of a federal investment in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure on their communities.”

Republicans have floated a plan with a price tag of less than half of Biden’s, and moderate members of the GOP are reportedly seeking to include only what they consider traditional infrastructure

: roads, bridges and the like. They also reject a corporate tax hike to pay for it, as Biden has suggested.

Now see: Biden rolls out $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan: ‘It’s bold, yes, and we can get it done’

From the Democratic side, Sens. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Angus King of Maine (an independent who votes with Democrats) and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire attended the afternoon White House meeting. Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Charlie Crist of Florida and Norma Torres of California joined as well.

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and John Hoeven of North Dakota joined GOP Reps. Carlos Gimenez of Florida and Kay Granger of Texas in the sit-down with Biden.

Romney told NBC News that Biden was “engaged” and “attentive.” The Utah Republican reportedly said he proposed moving some money from the previously enacted COVID-aid package to pay for some infrastructure projects.

The Monday meeting is the second such gathering in a week. On April 12, Biden said he was prepared to negotiate on both the contents of the plan and how it’s paid for.

There wasn’t immediate comment from the White House about the meeting.

Also see: ‘We’re still blazing the trail’: Joe Biden wants to create millions of infrastructure jobs — but will his plan help women rejoin the workforce?

Democrats, meanwhile could again use the procedure known as reconciliation to pass an infrastructure proposal through the Senate with 51 votes. Biden says he wants a bipartisan deal, but insists doing nothing on infrastructure isn’t an option.

U.S. stocks on Monday pulled back modestly, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average

and S&P 500

ended last week at all-time highs as investors struggled for reasons to push equity benchmarks to new heights.

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