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McConnell: $800B infrastructure package acceptable

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhy the Democrats need Joe Manchin Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain MORE (R-Ky.) signaled in a new interview that he is open to an infrastructure spending bill totaling as much as $800 billion. 

"The proper price tag for what most of us think of as infrastructure is about six to 800 billion dollars," McConnell told public television in Kentucky over the weekend.

"What we've got here can best be described as a bait and switch," he added. 

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McConnell indicated last week that GOP lawmakers were open to a roughly $600 billion bill.

President BidenJoe BidenPutin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting How the infrastructure bill can help close the digital divide Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE's team at the White House has proposed a $2.25 trillion spending proposal that would fund the country's bridges, roads and tunnels and set aside more funding to help states beat back the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden traveled to red state Louisiana last week to sell the package, which Republicans say is loaded with Democratic pet projects.

“What I’m proposing is badly needed and able to be paid for and still grow — trickle down ain’t working very well, man,” Biden said in Louisiana. “We’ve got to build from the bottom up and the middle out. That’s how we built America.”

McConnell in the new interview highlighted a proposal set forth by Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale In Europe, Biden seeks to reassert U.S. climate leadership Antsy Democrats warn of infrastructure time crunch MORE (R-W.Va.) totaling $568 billion that Republicans have said is more focused and falls within a reasonable price range.

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"This is something that Congress has done for many, many years together on a bipartisan basis," Capito said when introducing the plan. "Our focus today is to say what our concepts are as Republicans [about] what infrastructure means, what our principles are in terms of pay-fors and to say to President Biden and his team and our Democrat colleagues: 'We're ready to sit down and get to work on this.' " 

Biden is set to meet with top lawmakers from both parties this week as the two sides look to hammer out a deal. 

“They will have a dialogue about policy areas of mutual agreement and identifying common ground on which they can work together and deliver results on the challenges facing American families,” a White House official told the Hill last week in reference to the planned talks. "The president is eager to talk in person with the Congressional leaders about how they can partner on the goals of restoring trust in government, ensuring that government delivers for the American people, and keeping the nation safe and competitive in the world." 

Biden has said he intends to pay for the massive spending measure by raising the tax rate on wealthy Americans. McConnell has balked at that idea and has said the 2017 tax overhaul was one of the GOP's prime accomplishments over the last 10 years. 

McConnell in the interview predicted Democrats will "see if they can pass this thing by getting everybody in line," but if they fail, his caucus will only be open to paying for a spending package through more traditional measures like increasing the gas tax 

"The best way to pay for infrastructure is with the people who use it," McConnell said.