U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters after the weekly Republican Caucus Politics lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington January 26, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
All hopes that Washington could scrape together a bipartisan infrastructure package were met on Thursday.
Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Told reporters that the more than $ 2 trillion plan unveiled Wednesday by the White House “will not get any support from our side.” The proposal would invest in roads, bridges, airports, broadband, water systems, electric vehicles and vocational training programs, and raise the corporate tax rate to 28% to offset spending.
The Republican also pledged to oppose the broader Democratic agenda under President Joe Biden, who last month passed his first major initiative under the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package.
“I’ll fight them every step of the way because I think this is the wrong recipe for America,” McConnell said at a news conference in Kentucky.
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Unless 10 Republicans break with McConnell or Biden revises plan to win GOP votes, his comment almost assures Democrats would have to use the budget vote to pass the infrastructure bill themselves. Biden has said he wants GOP support for the plan. However, Republicans have opposed tax hikes, saying they could hamper US economic recovery.
In response to McConnell on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki asked if the Republican Senate chairman would agree to the US need to upgrade its infrastructure and expand broadband access. She said Democrats and Republicans need to resolve differences over how to pay for the investment.
“If you don’t want to increase the corporate tax rate – still lower than in the last 70 years and for decades – if you don’t want that, if you don’t want to introduce a global minimum tax rate, what are the alternatives? “, she said.
Even when using reconciliation, Democrats must balance competing interests in order to pass a bill. Some progressive lawmakers have called for more ambitious measures to combat climate change to be included in the plan. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and other New York and New Jersey lawmakers have urged the removal of the cap on state and local tax deductions. The change is expected to benefit higher-income taxpayers.
Biden and his advisors received initial Republican contributions to the Covid relief package and then proceeded to adopt them themselves when they realized the GOP would only accept a much smaller bill than they were looking for. They seem to be taking a similar approach to infrastructure.
“We will negotiate in good faith with any Republican who wants to help. But we have to do it,” said Biden as he unveiled the infrastructure plan in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Biden announced Thursday that a team of five cabinet officials would take responsibility for speaking to Congress about the infrastructure plan, working out the details of the proposal and presenting it to the public.
The five officials are Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Biden said at the start of his first cabinet meeting.
No Republicans in Congress voted for Biden’s widespread Covid plan. Supporting the GOP for another multitrillion dollar bill – including tax hikes – appears more difficult.
“The chances of getting Republican support are longer,” said Howard Fineman, an MSNBC employee and RealClearPolitics correspondent, in a telephone interview.
“The last thing was fighting a disease, for God’s sake, and they couldn’t get Republicans to vote for it,” Fineman said. “In this sense, it has less emotional weight.”
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Correction: The $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package was passed in March. In an earlier version the timing was incorrectly specified.