McConnell looking for Democratic defections on $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said there could be a few Democratic defections on President Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, declaring the expensive plan is more in line with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) than Democratic centrists.

McConnell has his eye on maverick Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who the GOP leader says isn’t wild about Biden’s proposal.

“What I think you can safely say about the new administration three or four months in: It’s a hard left administration. Bernie Sanders is really happy with the way this is going because they’re basically adopting his and [Sen.] Elizabeth Warren’s [D-Mass.] view of what America ought to be like on every single recommendation,” McConnell said at a press conference in Paducah, Ky.

“The good news is the Senate is 50-50,” he added and noted Democrats have only a three-seat majority in the House.

McConnell said he’s “hopeful that not every single Democrat” will back the infrastructure bill and centrists “will have some skepticism about this massive growth of government.”

He acknowledged, though, that every Senate Democrat voted for Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which didn’t get a single Republican vote in either chamber.

The GOP leader called Biden’s infrastructure proposal “a Trojan horse for massive tax increases and a whole lot of more debt and whole lot of spending,” hitting on talking points that he has sounded repeatedly in recent days.

“They’re sort of thrown everything but the kitchen sink into it,” he said. “The good news is they have a narrow majority in the House and a really, really narrow majority in the Senate and hopefully there will be some Democrats who share our views we ought to tackle infrastructure in a more modest way."

McConnell said he thinks there’s a chance Republicans can force Biden to scale down his plan even though Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to bypass a Republican filibuster by using budget reconciliation to pass it through the Senate with a simple-majority vote.

"This is a tough sell, a tough sell, when you’ve basically crafted a package, as I said, [that] Bernie Sanders is wild about but Joe Manchin isn’t,” he added.

Manchin said Monday that he does not support Biden’s plan to pay for infrastructure spending by raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent. He said 25 percent is a more appropriate level.

President Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent.

Manchin has also called for paying for as much of Biden’s infrastructure package as possible, though he has stayed away from saying how much the infrastructure initiative should cost in total.

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