Apr 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: White House targets McConnell, McCarthy in infrastructure push

Senate and House minority leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are seen during a ceremony outside the U.S. Capitol.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House is selling President Biden's $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan by projecting how much it will help each state — starting with Kentucky and California.

Why it matters: Tagging the homes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) not only puts them on the defensive, but warns other Republicans they'll have to explain why this bridge or that highway isn't something they can approve.

  • “12% of Kentuckians live in areas where, by one definition, there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds,” reads a White House fact sheet. “The American Jobs Plan will invest $100 billion to bring universal, reliable, high-speed and affordable coverage to every family in America.”
  • "In California, there are 1,536 bridges and over 14,220 miles of highway in poor condition," another fact sheet says. "The American Jobs Plan will devote more than $600 billion to transform our nations' transportation infrastructure."

But, but, but: Republican have their own preemptive piece — a memo attacking the bill.

  • "Described as both a 'jobs‘ plan and an 'infrastructure' plan, the proposal undermines both," reads the memo from the Senate Republican Conference. "'Biden’s Partisan, Job-Crushing Slush Fund' spends just 5% of the total $2.7 trillion on roads and bridges."

The big picture: The House and Senate are coming back from recess Monday for a busy session as Democrats work hard to pass the president’s infrastructure bill — or at least “make real progress” on it — by Memorial Day.

  • One tactic being employed by the White House is publishing report cards for each of the 50 states outlining the “cost of inaction” for voting to approve the package.

The details: The administration intends to have White House officials focus on how the money will be spent during interviews with local TV stations.

  • The Democratic National Committee will use fact sheets accompanying the report cards to coordinate with state Democratic parties in selling the plan, including staging virtual events and organizing digital toolkits, a DNC spokesperson said.
  • President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Cabinet members are expected to travel to sell the plan in the coming weeks, a White House official told Axios.
  • "There's lots of creative ways that I expect to see local mayors and governors and local elected officials using the information in these fact sheets, in op-eds or local media," White House Deputy Communications Director Kate Berner said.The fact sheets will be posted on the White House’s website and may be used by outside groups, as well."

What they're saying: Both McConnell and McCarthy have already outlined their views on the Biden infrastructure bill.

  • "I'm going to fight them every step of the way because I think this is the wrong prescription for America," McConnell said of the infrastructure plan at a news conference in Kentucky.
  • And McCarthy released a memo on the package that accused the president of not spending enough on physical infrastructure like bridges and highways. He said, "The rest is a 'kitchen sink' of wasteful progressive demands."

The Senate Republican Conference memo adds more detail.

  • It highlights critical news stories and polling related to the bill's rollout.
  • “Raising taxes on manufacturers would fundamentally undermine our ability to lead this recovery," says National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons.

Go deeper:

Go deeper