'Every step of the way': Republican McConnell pledges battle over Biden US$2 trillion infrastructure plan

Top Senate Republican McConnell (left) said Biden has no public mandate for the proposal. PHOTOS: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Joe Biden on Thursday (April 1) faced the prospect of all-out political war with Republicans over his US$2 trillion (S$2.7 trillion) blueprint to revitalise America's infrastructure, with a top Democrat also offering only partial support over how to pay for the package.

A day after the Democratic president unveiled his "American Jobs Plan" in Pittsburgh, the Senate's top Republican said Biden has no public mandate for the proposal and predicted that Republicans would not support it.

Biden's plan combines spending on roads and bridges with climate change initiatives and human services like elder care.

"I'm going to fight them every step of the way, because I think this is the wrong prescription for America," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a news conference in Owensboro, Kentucky.

"That package that they're putting together now, as much as we would like to address infrastructure, is not going to get support from our side," McConnell added.

Meanwhile, a key House of Representatives Democrat said lawmakers could significantly change the tax proposals included in Biden's plan.

"We will accept some of what he is proposing," said Democratic Representative Richard Neal, who chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

"If we can improve upon the president's proposal, we want to do that," Neal added.

Biden wants to cover the cost of the plan by raising corporate tax rates and making it harder for the companies to use offshore tax shelters. Neal said he would consider bonds and expanded tax credits to pay for it.

Democrats control both chambers of Congress by narrow margins. Passage could be difficult if Republicans line up against the plan.

Some liberal Democrats have said the bill should be dramatically bigger. Moderate Democrats have said it must increase federal tax deductions for state and local taxes, a step that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday she would support.

The scope of the infrastructure package could also give pause to some moderate Senate Democrats.

House Democrats have said they hope to pass Biden's infrastructure package by July 4. Much of the legislation could be written in the first week of May, Pelosi said. The White House said Biden would like to see the plan passed by this summer.

Without Republican support, Democrats might have to resort to a parliamentary procedure that would enable it to pass the 100-seat Senate with a simple majority vote rather than the 60 votes needed to advance most legislation.

However, that could require them to drop elements that do not affect taxes and spending, such as provisions that would make it easier for workers to organise labour unions.

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