Sen. Capito: Biden 'missed opportunity' to gain 20 Republicans' support in failed infrastructure talks

The lawmaker said she and Biden broke off the talks in a short phone call Tuesday.

West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito joined "Special Report" on Tuesday to react to the White House breaking off bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiations with her.

Capito said she and President Joe Biden broke off their negotiations in a five-minute phone call, which left her feeling "extremely disappointed."

"[W]e offered the president basically what he asked us to do the first time we met with him, which was $1 trillion over 8 years, including baseline spending, and that it wouldn’t include a tax increase – and that was our red line, not his," she said.

"The last offer that I got from the president had four tax increases in it. And it also was much closer in numbers than what the White House is putting out right now. So I’m disappointed with that."

Host Bret Baier noted the White House claimed Biden never agreed to that initial offer, which Capito maintained was indeed extended.

"The president said that to us himself, very clearly … It was walked back by his staff several days later – that's true."

Capito said the White House staff's correction or retraction of Biden's initial offer was a "great departure" from where negotiations had been at that initial point.

"I just feel like we have missed a real opportunity here for at least 20 Republicans to join with the other Democrats to pass the most robust infrastructure package that we could have," she added. "And I’m still very dedicated to it and will be working through my committee to see that we at least get the legislation to back this up."

She noted that Biden proffered at least two stipulations that she found quite problematic – one of which was his definition of infrastructure reportedly being detached from strictly "physical" infrastructure items like roads, bridges, internet, and commercial hubs like airports and rail depots.

The other reportedly entailed ending fossil fuel incentives, despite the industry being an important employment base in Capito's state.

"[Y]ou can imagine being from West Virginia I was a bit dumbfounded," she said.


"The president still had schools and [Veterans' Affairs] and housing and other things that universally are … not thought of as core physical infrastructure – so we were still not definitionally in the right place," she added regarding the second point.

The lawmaker also commented on the fact that a second bipartisan group which includes Sens. Joe Manchin, D-WV., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Mitt Romney, R-Utah and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, are on a second "track" that is also negotiating infrastructure funding.

"I think, obviously, the news of that came out 10 days ago when I was in the midst of negotiating with the president on behalf of Republicans in a robust bipartisan agreement that we were hoping to get to -- if there is something else out there that looks better, sometimes that’s a distraction," she said. "And that’s disappointing to me in some sense, yes."