Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated over the weekend that his party would be willing to spend up to $800 billion on infrastructure, the most offered by the GOP but far less than the amount desired by President Joe Biden.
"The proper price tag for what most of us think of as infrastructure is about [$600 billion] to $800 billion," McConnell said in an interview with public television in Kentucky. "What we've got here can best be described as a bait and switch."
He added, “call it infrastructure, but much bigger with a whole laundry list of other things."
The White House is set to meet with congressional leaders on Wednesday and GOP leaders on Thursday to discuss Biden's plans for widespread infrastructure reform.
"They will have a dialogue about policy areas of mutual agreement and identifying common ground on which they can work together and deliver results on the challenges facing American families," a White House official told The Hill. "The president is eager to talk in person with the Congressional leaders about how they can partner on the goals of restoring trust in government, ensuring that government delivers for the American people, and keeping the nation safe and competitive in the world."
Last month, a group of Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., submitted a proposal to spend about $568 billion on infrastructure over the next five years.
"This is something that Congress has done for many, many years together on a bipartisan basis," Capito said last month, after introducing the proposal. "Our focus today is to say what our concepts are as Republicans [about] what infrastructure means, what our principles are in terms of pay-fors, and to say to President Biden and his team and our Democrat colleagues: 'We're ready to sit down and get to work on this.'"
McConnell went on to say that Republicans in the Senate would not support any attempt to repeal the 2017 tax bill, saying that an infrastructure package could be funded with an increase on the tax on gas.
"The way to pay for infrastructure is through the gas tax that already exists, and the gap between that and what we're willing to spend here needs to be credibly paid for, and the best way to pay for infrastructure is with the people who use it," McConnell said.
Biden said last week in Louisiana that "What I’m proposing is badly needed and able to be paid for and still grow — trickle down ain’t working very well, man. We’ve got to build from the bottom up and the middle out. That’s how we built America."
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