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Capito gives update on infrastructure plan talks with the White House

MORGANTOWN – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito offered an update to West Virginia press members on Senate GOP infrastructure plan negotiations Thursday afternoon. She also offered some comments on the ongoing Israel-Hamas hostilities.

As ranking GOP member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Capito has been among the leaders running point on the negotiations with the White House. For her, it’s been “infrastructure all day, every day,” she said.

The GOP leaders had a conversation with the White House Thursday morning, she said, and expects another on Friday. They still need to narrow the definition of infrastructure then reach a dollar figure.

The $568 billion GOP framework focuses on what Capito and her colleagues, along with Sen. Joe Manchin, call core or traditional infrastructure: roads, bridges, broadband, water and sewer, ports and airports, public safety.

Only a portion of President Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan deals with those things. The rest covers “social infrastructure”: affordable housing, daycare and caretaking, climate change research, a Civilian Climate Corps and more.

Capito said she expects a strong indication in the next week whether this bipartisan effort is achievable. “I certainly hope so.” Biden expressed the desire and that’s what her constituents want, but a one-sided Democrat reconciliation package remains a possibility.

“I’m hopeful but I’m also a realist and I realize that there’s political pressures to go very, very big. And we will lose not just me but other Republicans and we won’t be able to get it over the threshold. … At the end of the day, working together is what the American people want to see us do.”

Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire Thursday afternoon, to begin Friday morning, after firing rockets at each other for 11 days. Hamas had fired thousands of rockets on Israeli cities. Israel’s return fire was directed at Hamas militants, Israel said, but the militants are surrounded by civilians and Israel was criticized for killing 232 civilians, including 65 children, according to Palestinian reports.

“Israel is our friend,” Capito said. “We’re a strong ally. You don’t walk away from your friends.”

Capito said she supports the two-state solution, with Israel defined as a Jewish state, which Palestinians oppose. The decades-long issue of Israeli annexation of the West Bank should be decided as part of reaching the two-state solution.

“Terrorism shouldn’t be tolerated in any form or fashion for anybody,” she said. “I think Israel being strong is our best strategic interest.”

On the topic of social infrastructure, The Dominion Post asked Capito about her support for the Credit for Caring Act.

The act is a bipartisan proposal to provide a nonrefundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for those who are taking on added financial responsibilities as family caregivers supporting a loved one. The credit could be used toward expenses such as transportation, home modifications to accommodate a family member, medication management services and training or education for the caregiver.

The act would apply to the full spectrum, Capito said: those caring for children, the elderly and the sick or disabled.

Capito said we’ve seen – especially during the pandemic – people having to leave employment to care for someone. “This can bankrupt families, we know this. I think this would help.” And as Baby Boomers age, the stress on the system and families will only grow.

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