It's not the first time he's stonewalled infrastructure spending for trumped-up reasons, either.
As President Joe Biden makes plans to publicly announce a segment of his new infrastructure package on a trip to Pittsburgh Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claims he wants to help pass an infrastructure package — while making active attempts to block it.
The "Build Back Better" package, which is anticipated to cost more than $3 trillion, is expected to be before Congress by summer. McConnell (R-KY) claimed Monday to support the Biden administration in enacting an infrastructure plan, but his recent actions have contradicted his claims.
In a visit Monday to Kentucky, his home state, McConnell said, "Let's do an infrastructure bill. Let's not turn it into a massive effort to raise taxes on businesses and individuals."
But two weeks prior, McConnell spoke more harshly against an infrastructure bill, calling it a "Trojan horse."
"I think the Trojan horse will be called infrastructure. But inside the Trojan horse will be all the tax increases that Sen. [Rick] Scott and others have been talking about," he said.
McConnell pledged Republicans would block efforts by Democrats to push through the infrastructure package via the process of budget reconciliation, which would require only a simple majority to pass the legislation. He raised the objection that it would lead to higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, up to about $3 trillion.
"They have one more of those [budget reconciliation process] available to them, and my suspicion is they will try to jam everything they can into that bill and call it an infrastructure bill," he added. "I fully expect that's what they'll try to do, and that's because I don't think there's going to be any enthusiasm on our side for a tax increase."
The Biden administration has said it hopes to work across the aisle to enact the infrastructure plan if possible. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of the package Monday, "The president has a plan to fix our infrastructure and a plan to pay for it. But we certainly expect to have the discussion with members of Congress as we move forward about areas where they agree, where they disagree, where they would like to see greater emphasis or not."
But getting Republican cooperation may not be smooth sailing, as other Republicans have strongly criticized Biden's infrastructure plan.
"If the ploy is to lure Republicans to vote for the easy stuff and then do all the controversial stuff through reconciliation — I don't think our guys take the bait," Sen. John Thune said last week, while Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn called it a "boondoggle."
And bipartisan support for the bill is unlikely with McConnell's track record of stonewalling infrastructure legislation.
Last July, he blocked the Senate the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5-trillion omnibus infrastructure bill passed by the House that focused on transportation. Were it passed, it would have put into place an $8.3 billion program to combat carbon pollution, allotted more money to states to end traffic violence, and imposed a requirement that state Departments of Transportation repair old highways before going on to build new highways.
McConnell slammed the 2020 infrastructure bill as a "thousand-page cousin of the Green New Deal, masquerading as a highway bill," vowing to prevent it from coming to a vote.
"So naturally this nonsense is not going anywhere in the Senate," he said at the time. "It will just join the list of absurd House proposals that were only drawn up to show fealty to the radical left."
Yet McConnell openly supported legislation that burdened the American taxpayer — and hiked the nation's debt — during Donald Trump's administration, most notably the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
After the House Ways and Means Committee first announced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, McConnell said in a statement, "Today, the House of Representatives took a big step forward in our effort to help provide the American people with a robust economy that reaches for its full potential: that puts more money in middle-class pockets, that produces better jobs for workers, that secures more opportunity for our children."
He added, "In conjunction with the administration, both chambers are going to keep moving full-steam ahead, because we are committed to achieving our shared tax reform goals for the middle class, working families, and small businesses."
The legislation raised taxes for large sums of Americans, disproportionately benefited the wealthy while low-income families saw little to no benefit, and added at least $1 to $2 trillion to the national debt.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.