Mitch McConnell optimistic about bipartisan infrastructure deal

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There is a “great chance” that Republicans and Democrats can come to an agreement on infrastructure legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Fox News Wednesday.

McConnell appeared on “Special Report” following an extensive White House meeting with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

“I think both sides would like to get an outcome,” McConnell told host Bret Baier.

“I think they want a deal this time and I think they want a deal with us, because I don’t think they think they can pass this second effort through a reconciliation package,” McConnell added. “In other words, I don’t think they can get their own ducks in a row and so they are coming to us, and that’s generally how you reach bipartisan agreements. Plus, the subject matter is pretty popular on both sides of the aisle.”

Biden has already proposed infrastructure legislation as part of a $2.3 trillion package called the American Jobs Act. Republicans have panned the proposal as a grab bag for Democratic interest groups, including public sector unions and environmental activists. Some of the bill’s more exorbitant features include $400 billion for home and community health care and nearly $200 billion in electric vehicle subsidies.

Senate Republicans countered Biden’s proposal last month with a $568 billion package of their own, and McConnell indicated over the weekend that he would be willing to go as high as $800 billion.

McConnell declined to commit to a dollar figure Wednesday, saying the “the amount ought to be defined by the scope, and we may have some differences about how you define infrastructure.

“I mean, we think traditional infrastructure, roads, bridges, ports, water lines, broadband, are things we can agree on,” he added. “To the extent that they start getting off in rather exotic definitions of what amounts to infrastructure, we could have a problem.”

Republicans have insisted that the 2017 tax cuts remain in place rather than be repealed to pay for any infrastructure bill, a point McConnell said he “did make clear to the president” and that he said “seemed to be accepted.”

“So, we need to discuss how big a bill and how we’re going to pay for it, but not by raising taxes,” he concluded.

Senate Democrats previously passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan earlier this year without a single Republican vote through the parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation. The Senate parliamentarian ruled last month that Democrats can use the procedure on two more pieces of legislation this year, but it is unclear whether there is appetite among lawmakers to do so.

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