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'Mitch has been nothing but no for a long time': Biden suggests bipartisan deals unlikely

·3-min read
US President Joe Biden speaks with press, preparing departing the airport, after the US-Russia summit in Geneva on June 16, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden speaks with press, preparing departing the airport, after the US-Russia summit in Geneva on June 16, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden finally appears ready to admit that his dreams of a bipartisan presidential administration will never come to fruition.

During a visit to Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Biden stopped to give a press briefing, where he acknowledged the lack of cooperation he was receiving from Republicans on upcoming legislation.

The president said he hopes he will be able to reach a deal on his new infrastructure bill proposal, but noted that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been "nothing but no for a long time."

"I'm still hoping we can put together the two book ends here," Mr Biden told reporters.

The $1.7 trillion plan currently being debated has faced opposition from multiple fronts.

On one side, Republicans – led by Mr McConnell – look to obstruct and stall Mr Biden, with the Senate minority leader saying he was “100 per cent” focused on blocking the president’s agenda.

Progressive Democrats have also criticised the bill, pointing out it does little to challenge climate change in any substantial way or introduce social programmes that would directly assist Americans. They also want to see a broader infrastructure plan that is paid for by taxing the wealthiest Americans.

Both Senators Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley have publicly stated they will oppose the infrastructure plan if it does not do more to address climate change.

“From my perspective, no climate, no deal,” Mr Markey told the Associated Press. “I won’t just vote against an infrastructure package without climate action — I’ll fight against it.″

Congressman Ro Khanna of California echoed Mr Markey's sentiments, saying "an infrastructure bill that doesn't prioritize the climate crisis will not pass the House. Period."

Mr McConnell has indicated that he wants to see an infrastructure bill get passed and that "somehow, someway" the legislation will not undermine Donald Trump's 2017 corporate tax cut, which was a boon for the nation's wealthiest people and companies.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming pointed out to reporters that trying to come up with a bill that would appeal to both Democrats and Republicans would be nearly impossible.

"The things you're going to need to do to get Democratic votes, it'd be hard to get any Republicans," he said.

The current plan being developed by a group of 10 senators is rumoured to include a price hike for gasoline, which consumers would pay for whenever they stop to fill up their vehicles. However, that approach may not fly with the president, as he has vowed not to raise taxes on anyone making more than $400,000 a year.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse took to Twitter to air his concerns that his fellow Democrats were not taking the climate crisis seriously, noting that it had all but been dropped from climate negotiations with Republicans and that there was next to no focus on coastlines or oceans in their discussions.

"We are running out of time," Mr Whitehouse warned.

Mr Biden's administration said that the president understood the gravity of the concerns. His climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, said she and other officials would "fight like crazy" to ensure provisions prioritising the climate are included in the bill.

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