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McConnell Shoots Down Trump’s Infrastructure Proposal: ‘Keep the White House in the Box’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves after attending a meeting about the coronavirus in Washington, D.C., March 20, 2020. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) told Republican Senators that he would not support President Trump’s proposal for an infrastructure overhaul as part of any further coronavirus economic relief, according to multiple reports.

“We need to keep the White House in the box,” McConnell told his caucus, according to Axios. ” . . . The Democrats and the White House both need to get the message.”

Trump has been vocal about using a phase-four coronavirus package to fund infrastructure reform. “With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill,” he tweeted on March 31. “It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!”

But McConnell, who has been skeptical of infrastructure spending in the past, has taken a different public tone, including preaching fiscal austerity following the Senate’s passing of the historic $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March and a $484 billion small business replenishment bill last week.

“I’m open to additional assistance. It’s not just going to be a check, though, you get my point?” McConnell said Monday. “We’re not writing a check to send down to states to allow them to, in effect, finance mistakes they’ve made unrelated to the coronavirus.”

A source with knowledge of a Senate Republican call last week told Axios that “McConnell was essentially saying that, while the president will be willing to spend any amount of money between now and November, it was going to be up to Senate Republicans to act like Republicans and resist crazy spending.”

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