The Democratic cheerleaders at Politico Playbook have McConnell anxiety. Playbook PM runs with the optimistic headline “McConnell plays skunk at infrastructure party.” The Politico team reports (emphases omitted):
MCCONNELL’S NEXT MOVE: We’ve been waiting for Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL to play his next card on the infrastructure deal. He has encouraged the talks but hasn’t backed the agreement reached between the bipartisan group of 10 senators and the White House. Over the weekend, he helped initiate the GOP revolt against Biden’s now-abandoned veto threat.
Having seen the White House retreat from that position, McConnell went a step further this morning and asked Democratic leaders to abandon their legislative strategy:
“The President has appropriately delinked a potential bipartisan infrastructure bill from the massive, unrelated tax-and-spend plans that Democrats want to pursue on a partisan basis. Now I am calling on President Biden to engage Leader [CHUCK] SCHUMER and Speaker [NANCY] PELOSI and make sure they follow his lead.
“Unless Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi walk-back their threats that they will refuse to send the president a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they also separately pass trillions of dollars for unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism, then President Biden’s walk-back of his veto threat would be a hollow gesture.
“Republicans have been negotiating in bipartisan good faith to meet the real infrastructure needs of our nation. The President cannot let congressional Democrats hold a bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process.”
It’s early, and senators are scattered around the country, but our initial reporting suggests that so far McConnell’s statement is not having the same effect as last week’s complaint. Democrats aren’t going to allow McConnell to dictate the scheduling of their bills.
However, that’s not to say that all five GOP negotiators — ROB PORTMAN, MITT ROMNEY, BILL CASSIDY, SUSAN COLLINS and LISA MURKOWSKI — disagree with McConnell. If the bipartisan deal clears the Senate, and Pelosi insists on holding it while she tries to pass the reconciliation bill, expect GOP backers of the deal to loudly echo what McConnell said today. In that scenario, Republicans will certainly be calling on her to get the infrastructure bill to Biden’s desk.
So not a lot has changed.
White House press secretary JEN PSAKI was asked about the McConnell statement at the top of her briefing today. She followed the new White House plan of staying out of the weeds of parliamentary procedure, but did note that Biden has “long supported the two-track approach” and it’s “up to [Schumer and Pelosi] to determine the sequencing of the legislation.”
Playbook PM cites Burgess Everett’s story on the McConnell factor here. I take their anxiety as today’s good news.