(CNN)Republican leaders say they told President Joe Biden on Wednesday that they’re drawing a “red line” on hiking certain taxes to fund the President’s infrastructure spending proposal, an anticipated hurdle that has arisen during a crucial week for the White House’s infrastructure priorities.
The discussion between the GOP leaders and Biden took place during the President’s first bipartisan meeting with the top four members of congressional leadership at the White House.
Meeting attendees included Vice President Kamala Harris; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican; and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican.
After the meeting, McConnell and McCarthy told reporters that almost all of their hour-and-a-half meeting was about infrastructure and that they both made clear that they’re not willing to budge on the 2017 tax cuts signed into law by former President Donald Trump, calling the issue the GOP’s “red line.”
“I think that it is safe to say there is certainly a bipartisan desire to get an outcome,” McConnell said. “Clearly, Senate Republicans are not interested in revisiting the 2017 tax bill. I think the President and the vice president understand that.”
He also said individuals in the room agreed that they’d next work on how they would be defining infrastructure.
McCarthy argued that “raising taxes would be the biggest mistake you could make.”
“You won’t find any Republican that will go and raise taxes and that’s the worst thing you can do in the economy — when you are watching inflation, gas prices are going up, and it has not been this high since President Biden was vice president,” McCarthy said.
In an interview Wednesday after the meeting, Biden told MSNBC he’ll try passing aspects of his infrastructure bill without Republicans if they cannot garner bipartisan support. He said he wasn’t willing to abandon priorities like expanded child care, even if Republicans don’t want them included in an infrastructure bill.
“We’re going to fight those out. I want to know what we can agree on, and let’s see if we can get an agreement, kick start this. And then fight over what’s left and see if I can get it done without Republicans if need be,” he said in a clip thata aired on Wednesday.
He said the issue of how the infrastructure bill would be paid for did not arise, and instead centered on what should be labeled “infrastructure” — and what the two sides could agree to pass as such.
“I got into what constitutes infrastructure. And I want to make it clear: I want to get a bipartisan deal on as much as we can get a bipartisan deal on. And that means roads, bridges, broadband, infrastructure,” Biden said. “But I’m not giving up on the fact we have 2 million women not able to go back to work because all the daycare centers are closed, out of business, so they can’t go back to work. I’m not going to give up on a whole range of things that go to the question of productivity, increasing jobs, increasing employment, increasing revenues. I’m not willing to give up on that.”
The meeting came hours after Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney lost her position in the House Republican leadership for repeatedly publicly rejecting former President Donald Trump’s lie that he won the 2020 presidential election. The House Republican Conference is expected to replace Cheney with New York Rep. El
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