Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday afternoon slammed President Biden for “caving” to his left flank after the president endorsed a bipartisan $579 billion, five-year infrastructure framework and then threatened to veto it if it’s not accompanied by a much larger reconciliation package.
“Less than two hours after publicly commending our colleagues and actually endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the president took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it. It was a tale of two press conferences,” McConnell said on the floor.
McConnell’s criticism is the latest sign that the Democratic strategy of trying to pass Biden’s infrastructure on two tracks consisting of a scaled-down bipartisan package and a larger partisan reconciliation package will be difficult to pull off.
Biden on Thursday afternoon said he wouldn’t sign into law a scaled-down bipartisan package unless Congress also passes his ambitious social spending agenda in a linked reconciliation package, which would likely pass with only Democratic votes.
“If only one comes to me, this is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” he said of a bipartisan infrastructure deal.
“It’s in tandem,” he added, referring to liberal Democrats’ demands that a larger reconciliation package including elements of the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan become law at the same time.
McConnell accused Biden of flip-flopping on the support he showed for the bipartisan Senate infrastructure framework only hours earlier.
“It almost makes your head spin,” McConnell grumbled on the floor. “An expression of bipartisanship and then an ultimatum on behalf of your left-wing base.”
“I have no doubt that the president is under enormous pressure from some on the left to deliver a laundry list of radical climate demands,” he said.
The GOP leader said the conflicting messages raise serious doubts about whether Biden is truly serious about getting a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed through Congress.
“Really, caving completely in less than two hours, that’s not the way to show you’re serious about getting a bipartisan outcome,” he said.
Biden sounded a more optimistic tone earlier in the day when he walked outside the White House with a group of 10 Senate Republicans and Democrats and announced: “We have a deal.”
“I clearly didn’t get all I wanted. They gave more than I think maybe they were inclined to give in the first place,” he said, praising the effort of the bipartisan group.
Via The Hill