McConnell stirs GOP intrigue with support for Biden’s infrastructure bill - POLITICO
Jul 31, 2021 1 min, 53 secs
Mitch McConnell (L) and Senate Minority Whip Sen.

Moments before the Senate took a pivotal vote on its bipartisan infrastructure deal, negotiators zeroed in on the most important undecided member: Mitch McConnell.

The Senate minority leader stayed quiet for weeks but finally tipped his hand on Wednesday afternoon on the floor to a bipartisan group of colleagues, according to senators and aides.

He told them he would support moving ahead on the bill, provided that the legislation coming to a final vote was their agreement — not something written by Senate Democrats.

No senator in McConnell’s inner circle knew that he was about to take the plunge until moments before the vote, and some didn’t know until McConnell broke the news on Twitter.

McConnell had opposed the bill on procedural grounds just a week ago, lamenting that moving forward on unwritten legislation did not make sense.

But this week, McConnell did just that, twice advancing the bipartisan infrastructure plan although it split his conference — something he is loath to do.

Shortly before the vote and after McConnell announced his position on Wednesday, Sen.

Just 18 of 50 Senate Republicans supported moving forward on the infrastructure accord, with every presumed 2024 presidential contender voting no.

Thune opposed moving forward on the bipartisan framework, as did Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Republican Conference Vice Chair Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and campaign arm chair Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who assailed it as “insane deficit spending.” Sen.

John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former whip who may succeed McConnell, also voted against moving forward, even giving a speech criticizing the effort as “not ready” for the Senate floor.

Questions still remain about whether McConnell will support the final product, although there’s a growing feeling that in the end, the longtime GOP leader will stick alongside bipartisan negotiators, and his friend, Sen.

John Kennedy (R-La.), who has opposed moving forward.

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the retiring Policy Committee chair, has supported moving forward on the bill.

“When I said I was going to vote yes, I didn’t know McConnell was going to vote yes,” Blunt said, adding that McConnell’s vote was not “shared widely with the conference.”.

“Leader McConnell recognized this was a better option than just letting the Democrats do this on their own.”

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