Kentucky Politics

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he won’t support President Joe Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure package, expressing worries about overspending and the national debt.

And while McConnell says he’s in favor of some form of infrastructure plan, he’s adamantly against undoing any of the tax cuts passed by Republicans in 2017, which significantly added to the national debt.

During a news conference in Louisville on Monday, McConnell criticized the president’s plan to fund the plan by scaling back tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals.

“We’re not going to be revisiting the 2017 tax bill. We’re happy to look for traditional infrastructure ‘pay-fors,’ which means the users participate,” McConnell said.

McConnell said he wouldn’t support Biden’s plan even if it helps fix the aging Brent Spence Bridge connecting northern Kentucky to Cincinnati.

Biden has proposed paying for the package by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. The rate was lowered from 35% to 21% in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

According to the Tax Policy Center, the tax cut bill will add nearly $2 trillion to the national debt over 10 years.

Republicans proposed their own version of an infrastructure bill last month that includes $568 billion in funding and encourages local governments and the private sector to help foot the bill.

Biden’s infrastructure package includes two proposals. The first is the American Jobs Plan, including funding for traditional infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, water and broadband, while also addressing racial equity and climate change.

The second is the American Families Plan, which would fund universal pre-kindergarten, tuition-free community college and reducing childcare costs for parents.

McConnell and other Republicans have criticized Biden for having too-broad of a definition for infrastructure.

“If it’s going to be about infrastructure, let’s make it about infrastructure. And I think there’s some sentiment on the Democratic side for splitting it off,” McConnell said.

With a divided U.S. Senate, Democrats have suggested bypassing Republican opposition by passing the bill through the budget reconciliation process — the same tactic used by a Republican-controlled Congress to pass the recent coronavirus relief bill and the 2017 tax bill.

Reconciliation requires fewer votes, but all 50 Democrats in the Senate would have to vote in favor of it. At least one DemocratSen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has expressed reservations with the plan.

During the appearance on Monday, McConnell accused Democrats of using the pandemic to justify spending.

“I think it’s pretty safe to say that the bipartisanship of last year has kind of broken down because my view is our colleagues on the other side of the aisle just can’t resist stretching out the pandemic,” McConnell said.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.