Senate Republicans do not offer Biden officials new infrastructure plan

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Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) speaks at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on proposed budget estimates and justification for FY2018 for the Treasury Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

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WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) - (This May 18 story corrects to strike reference to Capito spokeswoman referring to White House deadline)

U.S. Republican lawmakers met on Tuesday with top officials from President Joe Biden’s administration to seek common ground on an infrastructure proposal but said they did not present a new plan of their own.

Senators who attended the meeting with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said they discussed how infrastructure investment would be paid for.

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Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who is leading the Republican effort, announced a counter-proposal of $568 billion in April, far short of Biden's $2.3 trillion plan. A bipartisan group of senators has discussed a package of roughly $1 trillion.

"I think they're digesting what we proposed and I think the plan is for them to react to that," Capito said. She said no other meeting with administration officials had been scheduled.

The White House said in a statement it was encouraged by the talks and would follow up with the Republican senators later this week.

Biden's administration has said it is willing to work with Republicans but will forge ahead with only Democratic support if necessary. The White House had set a Tuesday deadline for Republicans to offer a new infrastructure plan.

Biden's mammoth infrastructure proposal includes traditional projects to revitalize roads and bridges but would also seek to address climate change and social issues such as care of the elderly. The president said he would pay for the plan by raising taxes on U.S. corporations.

Republicans have rejected Biden's proposal as too broad and too expensive and instead have sought to reach a bipartisan deal that focuses on roads, bridges, waterways and broadband access.

Democrats have floated a two-track approach that would include a smaller bipartisan package, as well as more sweeping legislation that they could enact without Republican support through a process known as reconciliation.

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Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Makini Brice, writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman

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