McConnell Says ‘100%’ of His Focus Is on Blocking Biden Agenda

McConnell Says ‘100%’ of His Focus Is on Blocking Biden Agenda

WASHINGTON—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans are united behind stopping President Biden’s agenda, putting a damper on already slim hopes for bipartisan cooperation in Congress ahead of more talks with the White House on a possible infrastructure deal.

“One hundred percent of my focus is standing up to this administration,” the Kentucky Republican said at a press conference in his home state Wednesday, in response to questions about infighting among House Republicans. “What we have in the United States Senate is total unity from

Susan Collins

to Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country,” he said, referring to the senators from Maine and Texas.

Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill with no Republican support earlier this year and have proposed more than $4 trillion in additional spending on infrastructure, antipoverty and education proposals. Republicans have said they are willing to engage in talks on a narrow infrastructure plan focused on roads, bridges and broadband, and some GOP lawmakers outlined a $568 billion infrastructure framework. But they have rejected Mr. Biden’s more extensive spending plans.

In his first address to Congress, President Biden called for huge federal investments, including $2.3 trillion in infrastructure and $1.8 trillion in family and education programs. Gerald F. Seib unpacks the four main takeaways from the speech. Photo illustration: Ksenia Shaikhutdinova

Proposals supported by Mr. Biden on gun laws, voting rights and D.C. statehood have also drawn little GOP interest. They passed the House but are unlikely to progress in the Senate, where most legislation needs 60 votes to advance. Vice President

Kamala Harris

’ tie-breaking vote gives Democrats a narrow majority in the chamber, which is split 50-50 between both parties.

Mr. Biden, who represented Delaware for 36 years in the Senate, brushed aside Mr. McConnell’s comments, referring to a well-publicized remark Mr. McConnell made during the

Obama

administration: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” In those remarks, made before the 2010 midterm elections, Mr. McConnell also said he was willing to work with Mr. Obama if he met the GOP halfway.

“Look, he said that in our last administration…he was going to stop everything, and I was able to get a lot done with him,” Mr. Biden told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

The White House has said it wants to engage with the GOP in negotiations on the spending proposals, but Democrats are also willing to move forward with just Democratic votes, using a process called budget reconciliation in the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority.

In his comments in Kentucky, Mr. McConnell repeated GOP contentions that Mr. Biden ran as a centrist promising to reach across the aisle, but once in office has hewn too closely to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

“We’re confronted with severe challenges from a new administration and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that’s 100% of my focus,” he said.

White House press secretary

Jen Psaki

said the administration continues to welcome Republican engagement, and Mr. Biden will host Republican

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito

of West Virginia at the White House to discuss infrastructure next week, with guests of her choosing.

“I guess the contrast for people to consider is 100% of our focus is on delivering relief for the American people, and getting the pandemic under control and putting people back to work,” said Ms. Psaki. “The door to the Oval Office is open,” she said.

Mr. McConnell also is scheduled to meet with Mr. Biden on May 12, as one of the top four congressional leaders from both parties.

Ms. Harris said she and Mr. Biden will continue to try to work with Republicans, noting that they have been holding regular meetings in the Oval Office with bipartisan members of Congress. “We intend to continue that,” she said. “We are sincere and serious about the potential to actually get something done together. We believe it’s possible, and we’re not going to give up on that until it becomes evident that it’s not possible.”

Write to Lindsay Wise at lindsay.wise@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Source: WSJ – US News

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