President Joe Biden, who had predicted throughout his campaign that he would be able to work with a post-Donald Trump Republican Party, admitted on Wednesday that he was surprised by the former president’s continued influence.
Still, Biden reiterated his desire to work with Republicans on an infrastructure package and even insisted he could work with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just hours after McConnell took over. told a crowd in Kentucky that he was “100%” focused on shutting down the brand new Democratic administration. .
Biden’s comments highlight the administration’s struggle to garner broad legislative support from the GOP for his signing proposals, even though many of those proposals draw significant support from rank-and-file Republican voters in public opinion polls. Throughout the presidential race, Biden said his long tenure in Congress made him well positioned to win GOP support for liberal ideas – a proposal other Democratic candidates have suggested was naïve.
Speaking to reporters after highlighting an administrative program to help restaurants struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden said there was “a major mini-revolution underway within the Republican Party,” asked about the ongoing efforts to oust the republic Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from the party leadership.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and the Third House Republican, voted to impeach Trump after the Jan.6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol. She declined to support Trump’s repeated lies that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Most House Republicans, as well as a majority of GOP voters, supported and echoed these lies, helping to trigger a wave of state legislation to limit voting rights.
“I have been a Democrat for a long time. We went through times when we had internal disputes and disagreements. I never remember such a thing, ”Biden said of tackling Trump’s false claims and Cheney’s role. “I think Republicans are further removed from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought at this point.
Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, both backing Trump’s election lies, turned on Cheney and backed New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Trump loyalist, to replace her .
While Trump’s support is the main force uniting the GOP, the second strongest unifying force is opposition to Biden.
“One hundred percent of my goal is to stand up to this administration,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky earlier Wednesday, saying opposition to Biden had lengthened the ideological duration of the Republican conference. “What we have is total unity, of [Maine Sen. Susan] Collins at [Texas Sen. Ted] Cruz, in opposition to what the new administration is trying to do to this country.
McConnell claimed that Biden, with whom he negotiated several times when Biden was vice president, was moving to the political left.
“I think the best way to see what this new administration has – the president may have won the nomination, but Bernie Sanders won the argument,” he said. (Most of Biden’s proposals so far closely match what he campaigned on in 2020.)
Biden brushed off McConnell’s comments, noting that he was also committed to making Barack Obama a term president.
“Look, he said in our last administration, with Barack, he said he was going to stop everything,” Biden said. “And I was able to do a lot with him.”
So far, McConnell has had little success in blocking Biden’s agenda. The Republican minority in the Senate has yet to officially mount a filibuster, with Democrats using a legislative process called reconciliation to pass a $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, and all but one cabinet candidate – the bureau chief. management and budget Neera Tanden, whose nomination failed – relying on at least one Republican senator.
Earlier Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration had invited Senator Shelly Moore Capito (RW.Va.) to bring a group of Republicans of her choice to the White House when Congress returns next week. Biden has negotiated with Capito on an infrastructure plan.
Yet Biden’s previously set timetable for Republicans breaking away from Trump is months away, although the party shows little sign of losing influence.
“I predict to you, and I could eat these words, I predict to you, as the shadow of Donald Trump fades, you are going to see a huge change,” Biden said at a virtual rally of his supporters in December. “I think you are going to be surprised. It will take six to eight months to get it up and running, but I think you’ll be surprised.
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