Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, said on Wednesday that he is “100%” committed to “stopping” President Joe Biden’s presidency.
McConnell was asked about the House GOP leadership feud, which hit a tipping point this week after Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking Republican, again refuted former President Donald Trump’s stolen election lie, while speaking to reporters in his home state of Kentucky.
McConnell was also asked if he was worried about the party’s future.
“One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” McConnell said, adding, “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.”
After Trump and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana openly endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to succeed Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, McConnell made his remarks.
When the House returns to session on May 12, a motion to expel Cheney from her leadership status could be submitted.
Moves to remove Cheney became public after she replied to a Trump remark by saying that everyone who claims the 2020 presidential election would be rigged is “poisoning our democratic system.”
McConnell has previously criticized Trump’s actions in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot — including the fact that he did not vote to indict Trump in his impeachment trial — and has stated that Biden deserved to win the presidential election last fall.
He was asked on Wednesday if he thought it was troubling that a large percentage of Republican voters don’t think Biden won.
“One-hundred percent of my focus is on standing up to this administration,” he responded, reiterating his earlier comments. “What we have in the United States Senate is totally unity from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country.”
McConnell’s statements were compared to those he made regarding then-President Barack Obama to the National Journal shortly before the 2010 midterm elections.
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” McConnell said then, noting elsewhere in the interview that Republicans were open to some compromise and adding, “I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change.”
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Biden said McConnell “said that about the last administration — about Barack, that he was going to stop everything.”
But Biden added he “was able to get a lot done with” McConnell regardless.
McConnell softened his tone somewhat in Kentucky on Thursday, adding that he and other Republicans would try to moderate the Biden administration. “The administration will pivot to a more centrist position,” McConnell said, “and that’s where I’m spending my time and focus.”
At a White House press briefing on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claim that the Republican Party is united against President Biden’s administration.
A recent CBS/YouGov poll showed that 61 percent of American adults believe congressional Republicans are trying to oppose Biden as much as possible, compared to 39 percent who believe Republicans are searching for common ground with Biden.
Meanwhile, 58 percent think Biden is attempting to negotiate with Republicans in Congress, compared to 42 percent who believe he is not.
Republicans also slammed President Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure and family programs, which, when compared with Biden’s almost $2 trillion Covid stimulus bill passed in March, will amount to around $6 trillion in spending.
Republicans recently proposed a $568 billion infrastructure counterproposal. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who is heading the GOP infrastructure campaign, met with Biden on the phone last week and characterized the discussion as “constructive and substantive,” according to the White House.
According to the White House, Biden and Capito all expressed “their willingness to negotiate.”