- Mitch McConnell jeopardized Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal on Monday.
- Biden said last Thursday that the deal was tied to another, Democratic-only reconciliation bill.
- After Biden walked those comments back, McConnell insisted Pelosi and Schumer have to follow suit.
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President Joe Biden toiled for months on bipartisan negotiations before saying “we have a deal” on a $1 trillion infrastructure package last week. But when the president explicitly linked that deal to a separate Democratic-only spending package, it looked in danger just a day later.
Biden walked back his comments over the weekend, reassuring many Republicans and saving the deal. But Mitch McConnell had a fresh demand on Monday.
On Monday morning, the Senate Minority Leader called on Biden to ensure Congressional Democrats follow his lead.
The Kentucky Republican released a statement saying Biden had “appropriately” reversed course from his comments on Thursday linking the two bills.
McConnell demanded Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should also “walk-back their threats” to only move the bipartisan agreement and a Democrat-only package side-by-side.
He added that Biden’s attempt to reassure the GOP “would be a hollow gesture” if Pelosi and Schumer didn’t adopt the same approach. “The President cannot let congressional Democrats hold a bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process,” he said.
McConnell further explained his position from Louisville, Kentucky. “I appreciate the president saying that he’s willing to deal with infrastructure separately, but he doesn’t control the Congress, and the speaker and the majority leader of the Senate will determine the order,” he said.
The pair of remarks are the latest salvo hitting the $1 trillion infrastructure deal only four days after it was tentatively forged between Biden and a centrist faction of Democratic and GOP senators. McConnell hasn’t explicitly said he either favors or opposes the plan, and he’s largely attacked it on procedural grounds so far.
But he’s attempting to ward off a separate plan that Democrats are poised to muscle through reconciliation, a strenuous legislative procedure allowing the Senate to clear budgetary bills on a simple majority vote. It will likely include tax hikes on wealthy Americans and corporations, along with spending on childcare, education, and healthcare.
McConnell’s opposition may potentially derail the package, as it could depress support among Republicans for the deal. A total of 11 Senate Republicans signed onto the deal, and securing its passage will be tougher with any defections.
On Saturday, Biden backed down from his threat to reject the package and said he had never meant to give that impression. “I gave my word to support the infrastructure plan, and that’s what I intend to do,” Biden said in a statement.
Still, Schumer and Pelosi have long said they are operating on two tracks: approving the bipartisan deal and the follow-up party-line package. Progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are pressing Democrats to not scale down their political and economic ambitions to secure GOP votes.
Pelosi on Thursday said “There ain’t gonna be no bipartisan bill, unless we are going to have the reconciliation bill.”