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Biden’s infrastructure plan met with skepticism from some lawmakers

▶ Watch Video: Biden to share $2 trillion infrastructure plan that would fix roads, ensure clean water access

Washington — President Biden will unveil an ambitious infrastructure proposal on Wednesday that would spend over $2 trillion to reshape the American economy, but some members of Congress have already expressed skepticism about the plan, raising questions about whether such a bill will garner enough support to be approved in Congress.

Republicans have already balked at the price tag of the measure, which comes on the heels of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package which passed in Congress without any GOP support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that he doesn’t want to see tax increases “across the board on America” to pay for an infrastructure bill — and Mr. Biden’s proposal would raise corporate tax rates from 21% to 28% and would renegotiate with other countries a global minimum tax on multinational corporations.

“My advice to the administration is if you want to do an infrastructure bill, let’s do an infrastructure bill,” McConnell said on Monday. “Let’s don’t turn it into a massive effort to raise taxes on businesses and individuals.” 

But some congressional Democrats have also criticized Mr. Biden’s infrastructure proposal. Democrats hold narrow majorities in the House and the Senate, meaning that Mr. Biden and congressional leadership could not afford to lose any Democratic votes.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prominent progressives in the House, said in a tweet on Tuesday that the bill was too limited.

“This is not nearly enough. The important context here is that it’s $2.25T spread out over 10 years. For context, the COVID package was $1.9T for this year *alone,* with some provisions lasting 2 years. Needs to be way bigger,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

Meanwhile, some Democrats in New York and New Jersey have insisted that they will not support any changes to the tax code unless the state and local tax (SALT) reduction is restored. In 2017, Congress passed a $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction to help pay for former President Donald Trump’s massive tax overhaul.

Representatives Bill Pascrell, Josh Gottheimer and Tom Suozzi said in a statement on Tuesday that their policy is, “no SALT, no deal.”

“The SALT cap doesn’t just hurt our taxpayers but our communities too, which face savage cuts to vital public services if relief is not enacted. New York and New Jersey are also the largest net donors to the federal government and annually contribute more than we receive. Therefore, we will not accept any changes to the tax code that do not restore the SALT deduction and put fairness back into the system,” the three said. Pascrell and Gottheimer represent New Jersey, and Suozzi’s district is in New York.

Democratic leadership will also have to hold onto moderates in order for the legislation to pass. Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat and one of the key swing votes in the Senate, has said that he supports raising taxes to pay for an infrastructure bill, but instead suggested that the corporate tax rate hike should be from 21% to 25%.

However, Manchin said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” earlier this month that he would be unwilling to try to pass an infrastructure bill through budget reconciliation, which would allow the proposal to be approved without any Republican votes. Congress passed the American Rescue Plan using budget reconciliation earlier this month, and Manchin said that he believes 10 Republicans could be convinced to support a massive infrastructure bill. Most legislation requires 60 votes to advance in the Senate, and Democrats have a 50-seat majority.

“I’m not going to do it through reconciliation,” Manchin said. “I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them out completely before we start trying.”

Despite Manchin’s insistence, it is very likely that Democrats will try to pass the bill through reconciliation, given Republican opposition to significant tax hikes and passing another large bill so soon after the American Rescue Plan.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is currently mulling the use of an obscure procedural maneuver that would allow for another budget reconciliation measure this fiscal year. Although typically budget reconciliation is used only once per fiscal year, a Schumer aide said the majority leader is asking the Senate parliamentarian whether he can revise the current budget resolution to allow for another reconciliation process to pass the infrastructure package.

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