Mitch McConnell has warned Joe Biden that he faces a ‘hell of a fight’ over his prized infrastructure bill, describing it as ‘wildly inappropriate’ and criticizing attempts to pass the plan along party lines.
McConnell, speaking at an event in Kentucky on Tuesday, told the crowd that there would be a ‘big argument’ about Democrats’ plan to use reconciliation, which allows them to bypass Republicans in the Senate, to pass the $1.7 trillion bill.
‘There is a process by which they could pass this without a single Republican,’ said McConnell, the most senior Republican in the Senate.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, was in his home state of Kentucky on Tuesday and asked about the $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan. He warned that there would be trouble if Democrats tried to ram it through without Republican support
McConnell, who entered the Senate in 1985, described Biden, who was sworn in as a senator for Delaware in 1973, as an ‘old friend’ and a good person – even though they disagreed on some issues
‘But we’re going to make it hard for them. And there are a few Democrats left in rural America and some others who would like to be more in the political center who may find this offensive.’
McConnell, 79, who has been a senator for Kentucky since 1985, said that the impending battle was one of the biggest the country had faced.
‘The era of bipartisanship on this stuff is over,’ he said.
‘This is not going to be done on a bipartisan basis. This is going to be a hell of a fight over what this country ought to look like in the future and it’s going to unfold here in the next few weeks.
‘I don’t think we’ve had a bigger difference of opinion between the two parties.’
McConnell’s remarks come as the Senate is in a two-week July 4 recess.
Biden is seen on April 30 at an event celebrating Amtrak’s 50th anniversary. He has made infrastructure a key part of his program
Once it returns, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, hopes to vote on both a smaller, bipartisan infrastructure plan and the budget resolution – which allows Democrats to pass a second larger bill along party lines – before the Senate leaves in early August until September.
McConnell called Biden a ‘nice guy’ but that he hasn’t ‘seen any evidence yet of moderation’ from the administration.
‘On things of this magnitude, we’re not going to have an agreement. We’re going to have a big argument,’ he said.
‘There’s no mandate to do this stuff. So we’re there to argue about this and to hopefully in the end prevail.’
But McConnell also added that ‘we do not hate each other.’
He continued: ‘We do a lot of things on a bipartisan basis.
‘It’s not that we have personality problems with each other, it’s not that we have a lack of collegiality.
‘On the things we can agree on, we do them.’
In an interview with The Atlantic, McConnell said that he had not spoken to Biden since he became president.
‘Joe has decided to go hard left’ in terms of the policies he’s pursuing, so ‘as long as he’s trying to do these kinds of things, there’s not much for us to talk about.’
Biden on Saturday was in Michigan, promoting the bill to voters.
President Joe Biden poses for a photo after touring King Orchards fruit farm Saturday in Central Lake, Michigan. The visit is part of his administration’s attempt to sell his infrastructure plan to voters
Biden eats a cherry as he tours King Orchards fruit farm with Senator Debbie Stabenow on Saturday
First lady Jill Biden visited Maine and New Hampshire to sell the plan, while Vice President Kamala Harris visited a union training center in Las Vegas.
The agreement, announced in June, features $109 billion on roads and highways, $15 billion on electric vehicle infrastructure and transit systems and $65 billion toward broadband, among other expenditures on airports, drinking water systems and resiliency efforts to tackle climate change.
It would be funded by COVID-19 relief that was approved in 2020 but unspent, repurposed money for enhanced unemployment benefits and increased enforcement by the IRS on wealthier Americans who avoid taxes. The financing also depends on leasing 5G telecommunications spectrum, the strategic petroleum reserve and the potential economic growth produced by the investments.
Biden intends to pass additional initiatives on education and families as well as tax increases on the wealthy and corporations through the budget reconciliation process.
This would allow the passage of Biden´s priorities by a simple majority vote, avoiding the 60-vote hurdle in a Senate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.