Republicans pan talk of raising taxes to pay for infrastructure bill

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Greg Nash

Senate Republicans are panning talk of raising some taxes to help pay for a sweeping infrastructure package, underscoring the uphill climb to getting bipartisan support for a bill modeled off of President Biden’s plan.

The pushback, which ranged from members of leadership to moderates, comes as Democrats are collecting ideas for their bill and debating whether to use reconciliation, which would let them bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday predicted that no Republicans would vote in favor of raising taxes. The White House has stressed that no one who makes below $400,000 per year would see their taxes increase, a pledge Biden made on the campaign trail.

“I think the Trojan horse will be called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan horse will be all the tax increases,” McConnell said.

He added that he didn’t expect “any enthusiasm on our side for a tax increase.”

In order to pass an infrastructure package, Democrats are considering using the budget reconciliation process, which lets them bypass the legislative filibuster in the Senate. If they didn’t, they would need the support of at least 10 GOP senators.

“I would not anticipate that it would be well received,” said Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), a moderate Republican who would be at the top of the list for Democrats looking to win over GOP votes.

Asked if her prediction about how raising taxes would be received by Republicans was an understatement, Collins laughed before adding, “Yes.”

Members of McConnell’s leadership team were also dismissive of increasing taxes.

“Raising taxes is not gonna help anybody in our country,” said Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), who oversees the Senate GOP campaign strategy.

Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, appeared to reference a Bloomberg News story published Monday when he said the ideas being discussed by the White House “would be the most significant tax raising piece of legislation in the last 28 years.”

Bloomberg reported that the White House is discussing a slew of potential changes to the tax code, including repealing parts of the 2017 GOP tax law that cut the corporate tax rate, raising the rate for some high-income earners and expanding the estate tax.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that it was too early to discuss how to pay for an infrastructure package, given one had not been unveiled, but she reiterated that Biden would not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000.

“The president remains committed to his pledge from the campaign that nobody making under $400,000 a year will have their taxes increased,” Psaki said. “His priority and focus has always been on people paying their fair share and also focusing on corporations that may not be paying their fair share either.”

Democrats haven’t detailed yet the cost of an infrastructure package or how they would pay for it.

But top members of McConnell’s caucus told The Hill this week that there would be little support for either undoing parts of the 2017 tax bill or financing it through deficit spending.

“I can’t imagine any Republicans would vote to raise taxes,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican. “I think they’re going to figure out a way to pay for some of this stuff … [but] we’re not going to want to undo the 2017 tax law.”

Tags 2017 GOP tax cuts Infrastructure Jen Psaki Joe Biden John Barrasso John Thune Mitch McConnell Susan Collins taxes

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