May 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell, McCarthy say 2017 tax law is "red line" in infrastructure talks

The top Republicans in the House and Senate told reporters after meeting with President Biden at the White House that "there is a bipartisan desire to get an outcome" on an infrastructure package, but stressed that revisiting the 2017 tax cuts is a "red line."

Why it matters: Wednesday marked the first time that Biden has hosted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the White House.

  • The Biden administration has expressed interest in striking a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, but the two sides remain far apart.
  • Biden has proposed a $2 trillion package paid for with a corporate tax increase, while some Republican senators have said they'd be willing to spend up to $800 billion.

The state of play: McConnell and McCarthy both said that the first step in striking a deal with Democrats would be to come to an agreement on the definition of "infrastructure."

  • Republicans have argued for narrowing the bill to traditional infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. Biden's package includes spending on progressive priorities like workforce development, quality housing and clean-energy investments.
  • McConnell said he will involve the Senate committees in crafting the package and that he doesn't favor "top-down dictation as to what this package looks like, but rather a consultative process in which everybody in my conference is involved."

The big picture: McCarthy said he spoke to Biden about inflation concerns, following a reading from the Consumer Price Index on Wednesday that showed prices rose 4.2% in April over last year.

  • The House Republican leader said he expressed concerns to Biden about "incentivizing people not to work," as well as the inflow of migrants at the Southern border.
  • "Those are places we can work together and should work together to try to solve what is happening there," McCarthy said.
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