This week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a statement on recent bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiations, attempting to dictate both the Senate and House floor calendars by demanding that the bipartisan package and the broader families and climate package not be moved in tandem.
However, one look at statements made by McConnell and other Republican Senators just a month ago show anything but good faith. Previous statements have shown they’ve not only known since the beginning of negotiations that a Democratic reconciliation bill was coming, but that Democrats could “certainly do that” just 2 months ago. This runs in stark opposition to claims from Republicans that they were “blindsided” by President Biden’s statements affirming that efforts to pass a reconciliation bill would continue.
In a Fox News interview on May 12th, McConnell acknowledged that the Democrats could very well pursue a separate reconciliation bill when Brett Baier of Fox News asked “So, you would agree to a separate package… knowing the Democrats would use, or try to, reconciliation for the other parts…?” McConnell responded “They are in the majority. They don’t need my permission to decide how they want to pursue something,” adding that while Democrats needed Republicans for a bipartisan infrastructure bill, “whether they’ll try another reconciliation on some other subject is up to them.”
A few days later he seemed more secure in his belief that there would be a reconciliation package for infrastructure alongside a potential bipartisan effort, telling reporters that “we are anticipating at some point getting a reconciliation bill. I guess what we will find out soon is whether there’s an additional bipartisan effort to address the subject that a lot of us would like to address.” Therefore, his outrage about the Biden Administration linking is not only unfounded, but he acknowledged as much within just the last few weeks.
McConnell is not the only Republican in Congress to have been aware of the likelihood that a reconciliation bill would be pushed in addition to a bipartisan infrastructure package. In April, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) stated on ABC News’ This Week, “you’ve got an easy bipartisan win here if you’ll keep this package nearly focused on infrastructure, and then the other 70 or so percent of the package that doesn’t have very much to do with infrastructure, if you want to force that in a partisan way, you can still do that”.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) seemed to agree on June 24th, saying, “Look, I’m not suggesting Democrats aren’t going to try by reconciliation to do the big tax increases and big spending they’d like to do outside of this, I’m sure they will. But in the meantime, let’s go ahead and get this done.”
Instead, the evidence is clear that Senate Republicans are the ones jeopardizing the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, threatening to tank the bipartisan bill while Democrats work to address the larger policy problems of our time such as climate change and strengthening American families with a care economy that works for all.