Washington (CNN)Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that there needs to be “a clear direction” on infrastructure talks by the time Congress returns from its recess next week, calling ongoing negotiations over the administration’s sweeping proposal “encouraging” while stressing that the public expects action on the issue soon.
“This week Congress is out of Washington, but it’s very much going to be a workweek for us and for the conversations that are ongoing with Congress. By the time that they return, which is June 7, just a week from tomorrow, we need a clear direction,” Buttigieg told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
“You know, certainly encouraging to see the healthy conversations that have happened over the last days and weeks, but the President keeps saying inaction is not an option and time is not unlimited here,” he added. “The American people expect us to do something, they expect us to deliver.”
The comments from the transportation secretary come as the White House and congressional Republicans remain locked in negotiations on the proposal, with President Joe Biden pushing for the passage of a nearly $1 trillion package that would provide money for roads, bridges and other major projects. The President is set to miss a Memorial Day deadline he had set for the talks, with lawmakers planning to return to Washington early next week.
Last week, Senate Republicans made a $928 billion counteroffer to Biden’s $1.7 trillion proposal, though their offer fell short of the $1 trillion that they had said Biden was open to during their White House negotiations. Buttigieg told CNN on Sunday that though Republicans “philosophically seem to agree that $1 trillion investment is the kind of thing we need to do right now,” there is still a lot of “daylight” between the two sides.
“Especially because things we consider very important — from making sure that we’re sparking an electric vehicle revolution and that it happens in the US with American workers on American soil, to the President’s commitment to make sure that we get rid of 100% of lead pipes in this country — we didn’t see as much of that in the counterproposal,” he said.
The administration, Buttigieg said, is “getting pretty close to a fish or cut bait moment” in its negotiations, indicating that Democrats may go it alone sooner rather than later if a deal isn’t reached.
“So, we believe in this process but also very much
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