McConnell says Republicans are done working with Biden on jobs before they start

5871

And he wants the plan to be much smaller than what the GOP first suggested.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that the GOP's starting point for negotiations on an infrastructure package is also its ending point.

President Joe Biden has proposed a $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan package to invest in bridges, roads, transit, water systems, care giving, clean energy, and broadband infrastructure.

The Kentucky Republican told reporters that his party is "open to doing a roughly $600 billion package," such as the $568 billion counterproposal offered by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and four GOP colleagues, focusing on highways and broadband.

Asked if he was open to negotiations above that, McConnell responded. "No. If it's gonna be about infrastructure, let's make it about infrastructure."

Biden announced his American Jobs Plan proposal on March 31, arguing that it's $2.25 trillion investment over eight years would "upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, revitalize manufacturing, invest in basic research and science, shore up supply chains, and solidify our care infrastructure." He proposed paying for it with more corporate tax revenue.

Capito, tasked by McConnell with creating a Republican alternative, said on April 14 that she was aiming for a "sweet spot" between $600 billion and $800 billion.

But a week later, she announced just a $568 billion plan, removing all of the funding for clean energy, child care, and other human infrastructure and offering just what she termed "core infrastructure" like roads, bridges, water, and broadband.

A Washington Post analysis of her counterplan revealed that it would really bring only about $189 billion in new spending beyond what would likely be spent with no action at all — making it only about 8% as generous as what Biden deemed necessary overall.

Capito described that counter offer as "robust" and a "good starting point" for negotiations with the Biden White House.

On April 25, she told CNN that this was a first "marker" to show what they thought was "really important," and that it was "time to really start putting the pencils to the paper" to get a bipartisan deal.

Her fellow West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, praised it as a good beginning in that same joint interview. "This is the way we start negotiations. And they have put their best foot forward, but it's a starting point," he explained. "And it's not the finishing line.”

But now McConnell is indicating that it is the finish line.

Biden said Thursday that he is eager to work with Republicans on a bipartisan package if they are serious, but warned that he expected them to show real movement — unlike the way they approached the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan earlier this year.

"If like last time they come in with one-fourth or one-fifth of what I'm asking and say that's our final offer," he told reporters, "then no, no go."

McConnell on Monday essentially dared Democrats to do it without the GOP.

"If they can't get all their ducks in a row — to use the reconciliation again," he said, noting that the bill could be passed with a simple majority vote in the narrowly-Democratic Congress — as they did with the pandemic relief package, "they'll have to have every single Democrat in the Senate, all of them in line, in lockstep, in order to do that."

But if Democrats do go that route, they will apparently have the American public strongly behind them. Polls show widespread support for Biden's $2.25 trillion proposal. A Monmouth University poll last week showed 68% of American adults back the plan, while just 29% oppose it.

And while McConnell repeated his vow that Republicans would oppose any corporate tax increase on Monday, the poll showed 64% support for paying for the infrastructure investments in that way.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.