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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.

Go deeper

Aug 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Manchin and Sinema advising House centrists

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are privately advising the nine House centrist lawmakers trying to force Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a quick vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure deal, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: The two moderates who've stirred the biggest frustrations and held the most sway in their party over the infrastructure negotiations are helping allies in the House to stake out — and defend — their centrist position.

Aug 18, 2021 - World

Israeli PM Bennett to visit Biden in midst of Afghanistan crisis

Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's first visit to the White House will come with President Biden attempting to manage the worst foreign policy crisis of his presidency.

Why it matters: Bennett will visit next Thursday, the White House confirmed, which will likely make him the first world leader to meet Biden during his "Saigon moment."

Aug 18, 2021 - World

Scoop: CIA director raised China concerns with Israeli prime minister

The U.S. has raised concerns about Chinese investment in the Port of Haifa project. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty

While visiting Israel last week, CIA director Bill Burns told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett the U.S. was concerned about Chinese investments in Israel, particularly in the tech sector, and involvement in major infrastructure projects, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: That's the highest level at which the Biden administration has raised an issue that previously became a rare point of contention between the Trump and Netanyahu governments.