President Biden soured what was a point of rare bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill when he ultimately promised not to sign a narrow $1 trillion infrastructure bill forged by Democrats and Republicans unless Congress also passes a multi-trillion-dollar non-traditional infrastructure plan chock full of left-wing priority items, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday on “Special Report.”
The second plan is being spearheaded by democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with an estimated price tag of $6 trillion, while the bipartisan plan featuring improvements to roadways, bridges and broadband communications negotiated earlier Thursday by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and others, is pegged at about $953 million.
“If this (bipartisan deal) is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Biden said at the White House. “It’s in tandem.”
On ‘Special Report”, anchor Mike Emanuel asked McConnell if he considered Biden’s sudden announcement a “trap” or a “bait-and-switch”.
“Well, I was initially optimistic,” replied McConnell. “But it can best be described as a tale of two press conferences.”
“After the first one, the president walks out with a bipartisan group and blesses an infrastructure bill that many of my members are quite optimistic about. And then after all of those people depart the White House, the president goes out for the second press conference and says unless we can pass my tax bill, I won’t sign the infrastructure bill.”
Some Democrats have already joined McConnell in expressing concern about the left-wing plan coming down the pike.
Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia said Thursday he believes that plan, which Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., signaled he may seek to pass through the budget-reconciliation process – only requiring a simple majority rather than 60 votes – has a price tag that is “extremely high for us to take on that much debt.”
McConnell however reiterated that his caucus is eager to work in good faith on the bipartisan bill, but that the second plan is also likely to include a GOP “red line” that will engender no support from his side.
“What it does is puts my members including myself who were optimistic about doing a bipartisan infrastructure bill in the position of our Democratic friends having to guarantee that the 2017 tax bill is unwound — that’s our one red line.”
McConnell said that the Trump-era tax reform has been a win for the middle class and that it helped the economy boom in the run-up to the COVID pandemic.
“I think we have gone from optimism to pessimism as a result of the president’s second press conference,” he said.
The idea of working on a narrow bipartisan plan while having to consider the advent of a bloated partisan expenditure being forced through puts Republican negotiators in a challenging position, McConnell added.
Commenting later on Vice President Kamala Harris deciding to visit the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso on Friday, McConnell said that he would like to see such actions followed up with sound policy decisions.
“At least the administration feels it’s important enough to send the vice president down there. But I think the proof will not be in the visit. But in the policy,” he said.