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Manchin calls for 'enormous' infrastructure package paid for with new taxes

The Democratic senator said he favors rolling back parts of Donald Trump's 2017 tax law to fund a bill with the goal of "rebuilding America."
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., participates in a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 11, 2021.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., participates in a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 11, 2021.Susan Walsh / AP file

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin said Wednesday that he favors a large infrastructure package that would be paid for in part by raising tax revenues — a point of contention between the two parties.

"I'm sure of one thing: It’s going to be enormous," the West Virginia Democrat, who is seen as a swing vote in a chamber divided 50-50, told reporters at the Capitol.

While he didn't predict a price tag, Manchin said Congress should do "everything we possibly can" to pay for it. He said there should be "tax adjustments" to former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law to boost revenues, including by raising the corporate rate from the current 21 percent to at least 25 percent.

The tax benefits in the Republican law were "weighted in one direction to the upper end," Manchin said. He also suggested an "infrastructure bank" paid for with revenues, potentially a value-added tax, that would be used for "rebuilding America."

"I'm not afraid to look at other things," he said.

Notably, Manchin said the Republican resistance to higher taxes was not a "reasonable" position in an infrastructure negotiation.

"Where do they think it's going to come from?" he asked. "How are you going to fix America?"

Manchin's position on taxes signals a significant division between the two parties that could nudge Democrats to pursue the same budget reconciliation process that they used for Covid-19 relief to pass an infrastructure bill if they cannot reach common ground with Republicans on how to finance it.

The senator's remarks come as Democrats grapple with whether to go it alone again or try to pursue a bipartisan deal to secure the 60 Senate votes needed to pass a bill through the regular process, which would require at least 10 Republicans.

President Joe Biden's advisers are crafting a $3 trillion package that includes provisions on infrastructure, renewable energy and boosting the workforce, alongside tax increases to finance it, a source familiar with the plan told NBC News, while cautioning that the details are in flux. The news was first reported by the New York Times.

Even Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the most moderate Republicans, sounded skeptical about raising taxes after Biden said they would go up for people making above $400,000.

“I would not anticipate that it would be well received," Collins told reporters, adding that it was an understatement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters last week that there is no "enthusiasm" among Republicans for a tax increase.

"The Trojan horse will be called infrastructure. Inside the Trojan horse will be all the tax increases," McConnell said. "The only way I think they could pull that off would be through a reconciliation process."