Mitch McConnell backtracks on his infrastructure red line, bumps GOP price tag to $800 billion for potential bipartisan package

Mitch McConnell backtracks on his infrastructure red line, bumps GOP price tag to $800 billion for potential bipartisan package
·3 min read
Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
  • McConnell backtracked from his prior red line on the cost of an infrastructure package, bumping it to $800 billion.

  • But he didn't move on his opposition to consider unwinding the 2017 Trump tax cuts.

  • Biden and McConnell are set to meet on Wednesday, along with other Congressional leaders.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is upping the cost of an infrastructure package that the GOP is willing to consider to $800 billion, backing away from a recent red line he put at $600 billion.

"The proper price tag for what most of us think of as infrastructure is about six to 800 billion dollars," McConnell said in an interview with Kentucky Educational Television that aired Sunday evening.

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"What we've got here … is what could best be described as a bait and switch called infrastructure but much bigger, with a whole laundry list of other things, plus completely revisiting the 2017 tax bill," he said, referring to President Donald Trump's signature tax law which slashed taxes for corporations to 21% from 35%.

McConnell did not budge on his resistance to amend the Republican tax law, and said user-fees like increasing the gas tax could be used to finance new federal infrastructure spending.

"They want to, as the price for going forward with this big package, much of which is unrelated to infrastructure, to ask Republicans to undo what we thought was the single biggest domestic accomplishment of the last four years," the Kentucky Republican said. "That's not going to get any Republican support."

McConnell's remarks could signal some optimism from him on the prospect of a bipartisan deal on infrastructure and jobs, a key piece of President Joe Biden agenda in the next few months. Democrats may opt to approve most of the plan in a party-line vote using budget reconciliation if no deal is struck.

Biden is scheduled to host the "Big Four" congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday - Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and McConnell. It's the first time that the group has met in Biden's presidency.

Biden is pushing ahead with a $4 trillion spending plan to overhaul the US economy and repair roads, bridges, extend tax credits for families, establish universal pre-K, and affordable childcare, among many other initiatives.

The GOP is uniformly opposed to Biden's economic plans. But a group of Senate Republicans spearheaded by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia pitched a $568 billion infrastructure plan last month to kickstart negotiations with the White House.

That proposal is mainly focused on physical infrastructure like highways and bridges, water systems, and broadband - areas with bipartisan agreement. Capito and some Republicans are set to meet with Biden sometime this week as well.

Biden has proposed lifting the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, a partial rollback of the Trump tax cuts. But at least two Democratic senators are reluctant to hike it to that level, and instead suggest 25%. The president suggested he was open to that on Thursday.

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