US in bid to keep China at bay with fresh infrastructure investment ‘Must run faster’

China: Raimondo says US needs to ‘run faster and invest’

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US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said a proposed $52 billion (£36.7 billion) boost in US Government funding for semiconductor production and research could result in seven to 10 new US factories. She explained this investment will aid America’s competition with China. Senator John Cornyn added China had left the United States no option but to make such investments: “This is a vulnerability we must fix.”

Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Ms Raimondo said: “We need to invest in America. The president’s jobs plan is all about competing with China.

“Improve our education system, improve our infrastructure, invest in manufacturing.

“The way to compete with China is to run faster, to invest in America.

“In terms of defence, we haven’t slowed down.”

But US Senate Republicans plan to unveil a counteroffer to President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion (£1.2trillion) infrastructure proposal on Thursday, though one of their leaders said on Tuesday the two sides remain far apart.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, leading a six-member Republican negotiating team, told reporters the group could also seek another meeting with Biden in an 11th-hour bid to reach a bipartisan deal to revitalize America’s roads, bridges and other facilities.

The No. 3 Senate Republican, John Barrasso, sounded a pessimistic note, telling reporters: “We are now very far apart.

“We were pretty close when we met with President Biden in the White House.”

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It was not clear what the updated Republican package would contain.

Mr Capito said the proposal has been recalibrated along the same eight-year horizon as Biden’s plan. Such a change could increase its size to around $1 trillion.

Republicans, who met with Biden on May 13, have been disappointed by recent talks with administration officials including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Ms Raimondo and others.

Mr Capito, top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said: “I think that we’ve got good momentum, but we’ll see what their reaction is.

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Senator Roger Wicker added: “The president will not be surprised at the more outlined and specific offer that he’s going to receive, and it will absolutely be in line with parameters that he suggested in those areas.”

The sides are still struggling to agree on a basic definition of infrastructure and have made little progress on how to pay for the package. If talks stall, Biden and his fellow Democrats in Congress could decide to move forward at the end of the month without Republicans. Biden in March signed sweeping COVID-19 relief legislation passed in Congress without Republican support.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the administration is concerned about Republican opposition to altering a 2017 tax law, signed by former President Donald Trump, to increase taxes on the wealthy and companies.

“We are waiting to hear back from Republicans on how they would propose to pay for” the infrastructure legislation if they oppose raising taxes, Psaki told reporters.

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