Aug 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell praises Biden's role in Senate passing infrastructure bill

 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, makes his way to the Senate chamber during the Senate vote-a-rama
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) makes his way to the Senate chamber during the Senate vote-a-rama. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) credited President Biden on Tuesday for his role in getting the Senate to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Why it matters: It's a rare flash of praise from the Republican leader, who has previously said that 100% of his focus is on "stopping" the Biden administration's agenda.

  • McConnell applauded Biden's role in getting Democrats to support the bill — which was negotiated mostly by a bipartisan group of centrists — and push it across the finish line.
  • "There’s nothing to back you up like the promise of a presidential signatory, if you’re in the same party as the president," McConnell told the Wall Street Journal. "And so I think the president deserves a lot of credit for getting the Democrats open to reaching a bipartisan agreement on this bill."

Between the lines: By voting for the infrastructure package, McConnell and Republicans are seeking to show that the Senate is not too polarized to function — which could stave off Democratic attempts to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster and pass more of their agenda without Republican votes.

The big picture: McConnell also rejected criticism from former President Trump and other Republicans who said that he was giving the Democrats a victory before the 2022 midterm elections, per the WSJ.

  • "Infrastructure is popular with both Republicans and Democrats," McConnell said.
  • “The American people, divided, sent us a 50-50 Senate and a narrowly divided House. I don’t think the message from that was, ‘Do absolutely nothing.’ And if you’re going to find an area of potential agreement, I can’t think of a better one than infrastructure, which is desperately needed."
  • The Senate voted 69-30 on Tuesday to pass the package, with 19 Senate Republicans voted in favor, including McConnell.
  • President Biden on Tuesday thanked McConnell for supporting the bill. "I know compromise is hard for both sides, but it’s important — it’s important, it’s necessary — for a democracy to be able to function," Biden said.

What to watch: Despite the rare reprieve from partisanship, McConnell maintained that Republicans will likely not help Democrats pass federal voting legislation or other top Democratic priorities.

  • But, that doesn't mean McConnell will block everything. "When they want to try to do something in the middle, we can talk," he said.

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