But before Manchin whispered that wish to the universe and since, McConnell has made successive statements assuring the White House, Democrats, and anyone willing to listen that he and his entire caucus will absolutely not—under any circumstances—be helping President Biden deliver for the American people.
In early April, mere days after the White House had first unveiled the American Jobs plan, McConnell offered, “That package that they’re putting together now, as much as we would like to address infrastructure, is not going to get support from our side.”
This week, McConnell has mostly been in overdrive trying to disabuse people of the notion that Senate Republicans would be a partner in any way to the president in helping to find solutions to the greatest crisis the country has faced in a century.
On Monday, McConnell promised that “none, zero” members of his caucus would support Biden’s jobs and families proposals. On Wednesday, McConnell went even bigger—pledging that he was “100%” devoted to blocking every single piece of Biden’s agenda.
“100% of my focus is on stopping this new administration,” McConnell said, adding that everyone in his caucus “from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz [is] in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do.”
Just to make sure no one missed it, Senate Democrats put together a helpful video.
Well, that all seemed pretty clear to CNN anchor Chris Cuomo when Sen. Manchin appeared on his show Wednesday night.
As Manchin argued that Biden has “gotten more done in 100 days than any president in my time,” Cuomo countered, “But not with them, not with them,” referring to Republicans.
Cuomo repeated the phrase several times as Manchin continued touting Biden’s accomplishments.
“But you’ve heard Joe Biden, he wants it to work,” Manchin argued, referring to bipartisanship. “It will work.”
Cuomo responded, “But they don’t want it work. [McConnell] just told you, I’m stopping the administration. He just said it to you, sir.”
“You don’t know,” Manchin replied, “That was one person.”
McConnell is “the leader,” Cuomo noted.
“He’s not controlling all of that,” Manchin argued. “I can assure you, we would not be having discussions, there wouldn’t be an offer on the table of five or six hundred billion dollars of infrastructure.”
Manchin called that GOP offer—presented by his Republican counterpart in West Virginia and lead negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito—a “good starting point.”
So a decade’s worth of evidence to the contrary, Manchin is still a believer that Senate Republicans are honest brokers and they might come through … for now.
Oddly, on Thursday, McConnell appeared to soften his 100% obstruction pledge slightly. Asked about the remark, he told reporters, “I’m anxious on stopping the Biden agenda—depending on what it is.”
For whatever that’s worth. Perhaps it’s an olive branch that Manchin can continue to clutch onto while he searches for the 10 GOP votes that most other Senate Democrats are certain will never materialize.
Don’t give us assurances, Joe, just show us the votes. That’s all.
Here’s Manchin’s CNN appearance.