Apr 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: McConnell says he won't support infrastructure in coronavirus bill

McConnell at an April 21 press conference. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell panned the idea of using a coronavirus stimulus bill to fund major infrastructure investment in a conference call today with Republican senators.

Why it matters: President Trump has been floating the idea — and McConnell is moving early to crush it and more generally, encouraging Republican senators to buck the president's freewheeling spending ideas.

Behind the scenes: On today's call, McConnell said he won't support infrastructure in a COVID-19 bill. "We need to keep the White House in the box," he told senators, according to two sources familiar with the call.

  • "The Democrats and the White House both need to get the message," McConnell said, according to the sources.

The backstory: This is not the first time McConnell has privately told his colleagues he's uncomfortable with the White House's attitude towards spending.

  • One of the sources said that on a call with senators last week, "McConnell was essentially saying that, while the president will be willing to spend any amount of money between now and November, it was going to be up to Senate Republicans to act like Republicans and resist crazy spending."
  • Asked about these comments, a spokesman for McConnell said he did not have anything to read out from the call.

The big picture: McConnell has also been sounding the alarm about spending in his public statements. He said he favored letting states declare bankruptcy, which drew sharp rebukes from prominent Democratic governors such as Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York.

  • McConnell blocked additional money to state and local governments in the last coronavirus bill. And he said it's time to think about the national debt.

Go deeper

As techlash heats up again, here's who's stoking the fire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As controversies around online speech rage against a backdrop of racial tension, presidential provocation and a pandemic, a handful of companies, lawmakers and advocacy groups have continued to promote a backlash against Big Tech.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Google got a reputational boost at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, but that respite from criticism proved brief. They're now once again walking a minefield of regulatory investigations, public criticism and legislative threats over antitrust concerns, content moderation and privacy concerns.

Cities are retooling public transit to lure riders back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After being told for months to stay away from others, the idea of being shoulder to shoulder again in a bus or subway terrifies many people, requiring sweeping changes to public transit systems for the COVID-19 era.

Why it matters: Cities can't come close to resuming normal economic activity until large numbers of people feel comfortable using public transportation.

The policies that could help fix policing

 Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

George Floyd's death has reignited the long and frustrating push to reform a law enforcement system whose systemic flaws have been visible for years.

Why it matters: Solving these problems will require deep political, structural and cultural changes, experts and advocates say — but they also point to a handful of specific policy changes that, while not a cure, would make a difference.