Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill’s Morning Report – GOP pounces on Biden’s infrastructure plan Biden sets off Capitol Hill scramble on spending, taxes Biden clashes with business groups over tax hike MORE (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he likes President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report – GOP pounces on Biden’s infrastructure plan Biden administration unveils network of community leaders to urge COVID-19 vaccinations Pompeo ‘regrets’ not making more progress with North Korea MORE personally, but he vowed to fight a political agenda he said is “going in exactly the wrong direction.”
“I like him personally, I mean, we’ve been friends for a long time. He’s a first-rate person. Nevertheless, this is a bold, left-wing administration. I don’t think they have a mandate to do what they’re doing,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky on Thursday.
McConnell, comparing his job as minority leader to being a “defensive coordinator,” added that Republicans were in “a reactive mode.”
“I would love to find some things that we can agree on,” he said, but added there are “big philosophical differences and that’s going to make it more and more difficult for us to reach bipartisan agreements.”
McConnell and Biden served together in the Senate and cut deals during the Obama administration, when Biden was vice president and McConnell was either majority or minority leader. When Biden completed his final term as vice president in January 2017, meaning he was also finished being president of the Senate, senators including McConnell lauded him on the Senate floor.
But McConnell disclosed recently that the two have barely spoken since Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20, though Biden called the GOP leader this week to talk about his infrastructure package.
McConnell, while acknowledging that former President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – GOP pounces on Biden’s infrastructure plan Pompeo ‘regrets’ not making more progress with North Korea Biden sets off Capitol Hill scramble on spending, taxes MORE lost last year, pointed to the 50-50 split in the Senate and a razor-thin margin for the Democratic majority in the House.
“I don’t think the American people gave them a mandate to drive our country all the way to the political left … I’m going to fight them every step of the way,” McConnell said.
The 2020 election, including the January Senate runoffs in Georgia, handed Democrats control of the White House and both chambers of Congress for the first time in roughly a decade.
Democrats, pointing to what they view as missteps during the Obama administration, are pledging to enact a “big” and “bold” agenda.
Though both the White House and congressional leadership say they want it to be bipartisan, they’ve shown little interest in significantly narrowing their big-ticket items in order to get GOP votes so far. Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill by reconciliation, which allows them to bypass the Senate filibuster, and appear poised to do the same for a roughly $2 trillion infrastructure package.
McConnell on Thursday indicated that he doesn’t expect Biden’s bill to get any GOP votes in the Senate.
“I think that package that they’re putting together now as much as we would like to address infrastructure is not going to get support from our side because I think … the last thing the economy needs right now is a big whooping tax increase on all the productive sections of our economy,” he said.