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McConnell: Republicans 'open to spending more' on infrastructure

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' McConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday said Republicans are “open to spending some more” on an infrastructure package after GOP senators unveiled a $928 billion counterproposal.

When asked if Thursday’s proposal, which was spearheaded by Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGAO rules Biden freeze on border wall funds legal How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress GOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning MORE (R-W.Va.), is the caucus’s final offer, McConnell said, “No, we going to keep talking.”

“We would like to get an outcome on a significant infrastructure package,” the minority leader said in an appearance on CNBC. “And what we have already recommended, on a bipartisan basis out of one of the Senate committees just this week, is more than we have done over a multiyear infrastructure bill. So we're open to spending some more.”

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The GOP’s new plan is substantially more than their initial $568 billion proposal introduced in April, but still falls far short of the $1.7 trillion counteroffer White House officials offered last week.

The White House welcomed the Republicans’ pitch but said it had concerns with parts of the proposal.

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiLawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin Fox's John Roberts says for media, no Biden-Putin presser is a loss Harris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety, efficacy in SC event to kick off tour MORE on Thursday said it was “encouraging” to see Senate Republicans propose a package with a “substantially increased” funding level.

Psaki did, however, say the White House was “concerned” that there was not a proposal for how to pay for the plan.

McConnell said the “best way” to pay for an infrastructure package is by “reopening” the COVID-19 relief packaging and “repurposing” some of those funds.

He said states are getting so much money that they “honestly don’t know what to do with it," adding, "They like infrastructure, all the states like infrastructure."

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“It ought to be a way that we could pay for a significant portion of what we spend beyond the traditional amount of money that comes in from the gas tax. The gap between that and what we can agree to could easily be paid for by the massive amount of money we sent down to states and localities,” McConnell continued.

Psaki, however, rejected that idea, writing in a statement that the administration is “worried” that major cuts to COVID-19 relief could “imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals using this money to get back on their feet after the crush of the pandemic.”

The White House has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent to pay for their plan.

GOP lawmakers, however, are taking a strong stance against raising taxes. McConnell said the party will not revisit the 2017 tax bill.

“We're not willing to reopen that, but there are other ways to pay for a significant infrastructure package and we hope to reach an agreement with the Democrats to do just that,” he said.