Biden spells out why he thinks he can reach a coronavirus relief deal with McConnell

Tim O'Donnell

President-elect Joe Biden has made it clear he believes he can reach the other side of the aisle during his presidency. His first priority, he told The New York Times' Thomas Friedman, will be to push a major pandemic relief package through Congress, even before he gets into office. But that may be difficult while Republicans hold the Senate, which will be the case unless both Democratic candidates win their respective George Senate runoffs.

Biden, though, is optimistic, for two reasons. On the one hand, he thinks he has a solid enough working relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get deals done, citing his days in the Senate and as vice president as precedent. "Let me put it this way," he told Friedman. "There are a number of things that when McConnell controlled the Senate that people said couldn't get done, and I was able to get them done with [him]. I was able to get them to, you know, raise taxes on the wealthy. I think there are trade-offs, that not all compromise is walking away from principle. He knows me. I know him. I don't ask him to embarrass himself to make a deal."

But the president-elect also doesn't think holding the majority means McConnell will have all the leverage. If the GOP stymies a relief bill just to prevent his administration from notching a win, Biden said, that could lead to trouble for the party at the voting booth in the 2022 midterms. Biden argued that layoffs, shuttered business, vaccine distribution issues, and bankrupt states will make it challenging for Republican lawmakers to block legislation for too long. Read more at The New York Times.

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