McConnell Signals GOP Support for Raising Infrastructure Bill Ceiling to $800 Billion

May 10, 2021 Updated: May 10, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has suggested that Republican senators would be willing to raise their ceiling for an infrastructure plan to $800 billion, as a GOP delegation is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House this week to discuss his $2.25 trillion proposal.

“The proper price tag for what most of us think about when we think about infrastructure is about [$600 billion to $800 billion],” McConnell said in an interview on public television in Kentucky over the weekend.

His remarks come after a White House official told reporters on May 7 that Biden will meet with Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) on May 13.

Capito has led a group of Senate Republicans in unveiling a $568 billion counterproposal to Biden’s plan, saying at an April 22 press conference that the GOP defines the concept more narrowly, as “core infrastructure, physical infrastructure.” She shared an overview of the GOP proposal in a tweet, in which she said that Biden’s plan “goes beyond what constitutes infrastructure.”

moore capito
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) listens during a hearing in Washington on May 20, 2020. (Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images)

The Biden administration has sought to frame “infrastructure” far more broadly, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) telling reporters on April 15 that for the package, called the American Jobs Plan, to meet its aims, there must be “human infrastructure” to go with it.

McConnell, in the interview, said the proposal that Capito and her colleagues put together is a bill that’s “related to the subject” of infrastructure.

“What we’ve got here can best be described as a bait-and-switch,” McConnell said of Biden’s proposal. The bill is “called infrastructure, but much bigger, with a whole laundry list of other things,” McConnell said, adding that in order to pay for the package, the Biden administration has proposed rolling back some of the provisions of President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax reform bill.

McConnell’s remarks come as Republicans fight to slim down the multitrillion-dollar package that they say contains provisions that have little to do with infrastructure. They are also apprehensive about rolling back Trump’s tax cuts, which is a key feature of Biden’s plan. To pay for the infrastructure plan, the White House is proposing to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from the current 21 percent.

A White House official said on May 7 that McConnell will join other congressional leaders—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)—for a May 12 meeting with Biden to discuss the infrastructure package.

Biden traveled to the Republican stronghold of Louisiana last week to sell his plan, while signaling a willingness to back off some of his demands.

“I’m willing to hear ideas from both sides,” Biden said. ”I’m ready to compromise. What I’m not ready to do is, I’m not ready to do nothing.”

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