McConnell Moans About ‘Bipartisan Unity’ After Dems Tee Up COVID Package Through Reconciliation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after the Republican's weekly Senate luncheon in the Capitol on December 8, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
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February 5, 2021 7:52 a.m.

After spending six years gleefully steamrolling Democrats over judicial appointments, particularly with regards to the Supreme Court, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was suddenly appalled at the notion of eschewing bipartisanship early Friday morning after Senate Democrats passed a procedural hurdle to consider President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package through budget reconciliation, thereby dodging inevitable GOP obstruction.

“Notwithstanding the actual needs, notwithstanding all the talk about bipartisan unity, Democrats in Congress are plowing ahead,” McConnell grumbled on the Senate floor. “They’re using this phony budget to set the table to ram through their $1.9 trillion rough draft.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pushed back against GOP outrage in his floor speech, pointing out that Democrats had included several Republican amendments.

“Many bipartisan amendments were adopted, so this was a bipartisan activity,” he said.

Those amendments included Sen. Todd Young’s (R-IN) amendment to exclude undocumented immigrants from the next round of stimulus payments and Sen. Steve Daines’ (R-MT) amendment to overturn President Joe Biden’s executive order to kill construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, according to the Washington Post.

Democrats removed the amendments before the final vote, per Reuters.

While Biden did hold a meeting with Republican senators who offered a COVID-19 relief package that drastically shrunk down the President’s proposal, Senate Democrats geared up to use the reconciliation process to allow the legislation to pass by a simple majority, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie breaker in the 50-50 Senate split.

McConnell and the rest of the GOP are no strangers to using reconciliation to ram through major legislation without support from the other side: They used the procedure when they attempted to kill the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and to pass tax cuts that largely favored the wealthy.

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