Biden was in Illinois to promote his his “Build Back Better” agenda and sell the bipartisan infrastructure package and a second, larger package on “human infrastructure” that Democrats are hoping to pass through reconciliation — a process which allows them to bypass the usual 60-vote threshold necessary to pass bills in Congress.
ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega asked the president about remarks McConnell made Tuesday on his infrastructure packages.
“Mitch McConnell says you’re in for a heck of a fight on this one,” Vega said to Biden.
“Mitch McConnell loves our programs,” the president said with a smile.
He added that the Republican leader had acknowledged, as recently as Tuesday, that although he did not support the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed in March, its funding will help McConnell’s constituents.
“Have you seen what Mitch McConnell said? He told me he wasn’t going to get a single vote in order to allow me to get, with the help of everybody here, that $1.9 trillion … program for economic growth,” he said. “Look it up, man. He’s bragging about it in Kentucky.”
“It’s a great thing for Kentucky, it’s getting $4 billion to help poor — it’s amazing,” Biden added, mimicking McConnell and gesturing widely.
In fact, McConnell at an event on Tuesday in his home state did talk about the American Rescue Plan.
“So you’re gonna get a lot more money. I didn’t vote for it. But you’re gonna get a lot more money,” he said.” My advice to members of the legislatures and other public officials is spend it wisely, because hopefully this windfall doesn’t come around again.”
He also vowed that Republicans would wage a “hell of a fight” if Democrats attempt to pass a sweeping multi-trillion dollar infrastructure plan along party lines.
“This is not going to be done on a bipartisan basis. This is going to be a hell of a fight over what this country ought to look like in the future and it’s going to unfold here in the next few weeks. I don’t think we’ve had a bigger difference of opinion between the two parties,” McConnell said.
Biden on Wednesday visited Crystal Lake, Illinois, a district former President Donald Trump won in 2020 but that is represented by Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood.
In remarks following a tour of McHenry County College, Biden expressed hope that the nation addressing infrastructure will not just drag on and become a running joke as it has been in the past.
“God willing, we’re not gonna have 40 — 40 weeks of, ‘this is infrastructure week.’ Do you remember those?” he said, referring to events during the Trump administration.
Biden focused his speech — which he concluded by describing as “boring” but “important” — on selling the “human infrastructure” aspects of the American Families Plan, calling it “essential” and the “second critical part” of his domestic agenda that he hopes to include in a reconciliation bill.
“To truly win the 21st Century and once again lead the world, to truly build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, to truly deal everybody in this time, we need to invest in our people,” he said.
When the Senate returns to Washington next week, lawmakers hoping to move on Biden’s infrastructure agenda will be in a race against the clock to navigate a precarious political landscape before the summer comes to a close.
ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky, Justin Gomez and Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.