After partisan divisions deepened over the course of former President Donald Trump's time in the White House, President Joe Biden promised to begin restoring productivity in Congress in hopes of narrowing the ideological gaps between Americans on both sides of the aisle.
After Biden approved congressional processes like reconciliation to pass sweeping legislation despite Republican resistance, Republican lawmakers skewered him for supposedly breaking that promise of bipartisanship. The Biden administration has clarified that a bill's bipartisanship doesn't necessarily mean it has Republican support in Congress, but that it has support among Republican voters.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) himself signaled that the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats working with Republicans to restore productivity in Congress would be a futile effort.
When asked for his thoughts on the current division between Republicans in the House, McConnell responded:
"One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration. 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 percent of my focus."
The Minority Leader went on to say that Republican Senators are completely united in this focus.
McConnell's refusal to work toward bipartisanship is nothing new. As the Senate Majority Leader, McConnell refused to consider then-President Barack Obama's judicial nominees, including a Supreme Court seat his leadership left vacant for a year, despite the Senate's constitutional mandate to consider Obama's nominee.
After Democrats retook the House in the 2018 midterms, McConnell embraced his status as "grim reaper" for the amount of House-approved legislation he let die on his desk.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about McConnell's stated objective of "stopping" the Biden administration, and she didn't mince words in her response.
Psaki responds to McConnell saying "100% of my focus" is on "standing up" to Biden administration: "The contrast fo… https://t.co/6keItfZ4vJ— CBS News (@CBS News) 1620246626.0
"Well, I guess the contrast for people to consider is 100 percent of our focus is on delivering relief to the American people and getting the pandemic under control and putting people back to work. And we welcome, support engagement and work with the Republicans on that. The President has extended an open arm to that. The door to the Oval Office is open."
Without a single Republican vote, congressional Democrats and the Biden administration passed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that preserved expanded unemployment benefits, delivered millions of stimulus checks, and allocated funds for small business like restaurants hard-hit by the health crisis.
Now, the administration is wrangling to pass a sweeping infrastructure bill that would increase corporate tax rates, expand broadband access, modernize decaying federal facilities and commercial buildings, and create jobs in the process.
While some Republicans have expressed a willingness to negotiate with the Biden administration, congressional Democrats may have to invoke reconciliation again to bring it past the finish line in the narrowly divided Senate.
Psaki's emphasis on helping the American people over McConnell's prioritization of "stopping" the current administration was met with praise from social media users.
I love my fellow redhead. Her passion , humility and dignity set new bars for the role. Thank you. https://t.co/FXIi0vc11A— Elyse Hammett (@Elyse Hammett) 1620262414.0
Thank you, @PressSec, for your grace and professionalism, the hallmark of a real presidency. https://t.co/W1NwRVHJjZ— Rochelle Riley (@Rochelle Riley) 1620257191.0
100% agree with her. https://t.co/fnRVxA9cv3— George apchauboy (@George apchauboy) 1620331163.0
Others reacted more forcefully to McConnell's comments.
Mitch McConnell said that 100% of his focus is to oppose President Biden. Not 50%, not 80%, but 100%. If we're goin… https://t.co/wplhToKFhJ— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders) 1620345600.0
End the filibuster. Deliver for the people. https://t.co/QuJXvpnEwx— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@Rep. Pramila Jayapal) 1620258300.0
McConnell says he is 100% focused on 'stopping this new administration' at any cost, which is the same playbook he'… https://t.co/JcjUnZ1WtK— Alex Padilla (@Alex Padilla) 1620333302.0
Please stop asking us about bipartisanship when this is what the leader of the other party is focused on. Democrat… https://t.co/3ShdCFRZgv— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1620256896.0
This is the whole ballgame. McConnell said this almost verbatim during the Obama era. Time to learn from our mistak… https://t.co/1eds4fts8R— Brian Tyler Cohen (@Brian Tyler Cohen) 1620245635.0
What Senate Democrats are focused on: 💉 Ending this pandemic 🏪 Supporting small businesses 🚧 Passing a bold infrast… https://t.co/POrtDcr4Uq— Senator Patty Murray (@Senator Patty Murray) 1620338896.0
It's possible that McConnell's comments have provided Biden and Senate Democrats receipts to show when Republicans inevitably accuse them of rejecting bipartisanship.