After campaigning as a unifier, President Joe Biden finally met with top Republican lawmakers in an effort to drum up bipartisan support for his massive infrastructure spending proposals.
Part of his plan, however, includes increasing certain taxes — and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said such measures could be a “red line” his party is not willing to cross.
“We both made it clear to the president”
Following Wednesday’s meeting, McConnell specifically referenced the repeal of any tax cuts approved in former President Donald Trump’s 2017 plan would be a non-starter for the GOP.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) joined his Senate counterpart in insisting that there is a “bipartisan desire to get an outcome” on infrastructure, though Republican limits on what projects should qualify for that funding is generally much narrower than Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also addressed the nearly two-hour meeting in a press briefing alongside other congressional leaders.
“We’re not interested in reopening the 2017 tax bill,” McConnell told reporters, according to Breitbart. “We both made it clear to the president. That’s our red line.”
Those tax cuts, he argued, contributed to the fact that “we had the best economy we’ve had in 50 years” just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And so, from my perspective, this discussion about the way forward on infrastructure will not include revisiting the 2017 tax bill,” the Kentucky Republican said.
“A consultative process”
McCarthy voiced similar opposition, asserting: “You won’t find any Republicans going to go raise taxes, I think that’s the worst thing you could do in this economy.”
He went on to raise concerns about the potential economic impact of massive new spending plans, tax hikes, and worries about inflation.
The top House Republican also took issue with the way Biden is handling negotiations, insisting that he does not “favor having a top-down dictation as to what this package looks like but rather a consultative process in which everybody in my conference is involved in it.”
For his part, Biden told reporters that he was optimistic about the possibility of bipartisan compromise but remained willing to work with Democrats to pass legislation along party lines if necessary. It remains to be seen how much compromise the president is willing to offer after winning November’s election on the promise of seeking unity for a divided nation.