Sen. Roger Wicker, after speaking with President Joe Biden along with other Republicans, said Friday he believes a bipartisan agreement can be reached on infrastructure, as both sides agree on many key aspects of the bill.
“Republicans and the president want to build roads, bridges,” the Mississippi Republican said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We want to add broadband to that great heartland of America … and ports, rail, clean water infrastructure. We all want to do that, and I think that’s what most Americans think of when we talk about infrastructure.”
Wicker added that he thinks Biden knows that if he expects to get Republicans to vote in favor of federal infrastructure, “it can’t be anything approaching what he’s asking” with his multitrillion dollar proposal.
“We’ve got down to brass tacks,” said Wicker. “We’re going to exchange specifics in the next few days and we’ve agreed to give the president a more concrete proposal and he’ll get back to us. I think we can get it done.”
Meanwhile, Wicker said he doesn’t think any Republicans will back Biden’s call to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 25%.
“We really believe, and I think the statistics bear this out, the economy was roaring back in February of 2020,” said Wicker. “The 2017 tax cuts that lifted a burden off of people that want to create jobs, they were just kicking in and the economy was roaring. I would like to get back to that.”
He added that Democrats like Sens. Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin, “and a lot of Democrats” realize that more than $600 billion in infrastructure can be funded without changing the 2017 tax cut bill that “gave us a lot of job creation.”
“In February of last year, job participation was way up among minorities, among veterans, among females, and the unemployment rate was 3.5%,” said Wicker. “Let’s leave those tax cuts in place. Let’s look at the other ways.”
Biden also has “drawn a red line” against raising gas taxes and Republicans have “drawn a red line” on raising income taxes, said Wicker.
“We can finance it a better way,” he said. “The main thing is, we can get a robust, huge infrastructure package for the American people and we can do something big in Washington, D.C., still, on a bipartisan basis, and we need to show the world we can do that.”
Wicker also commented that he thinks the economy is coming back, and he doesn’t think Biden had to push through his COVID bill by using the reconciliation process.
“The debt risk is becoming unmanageable,” he said. “We’ve had debt for a while, but it gets unmanageable and as interest rates creep up and as inflation occurs, which we’re seeing now, we really expected this.”