Trump gives McConnell insult-filled ultimatum on Biden agenda
Former President Trump ripped into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) once again on Wednesday, giving the leader an invective-filled ultimatum to stand firm against raising the debt ceiling and keep his conference unified against President Biden’s spending agenda.
Trump blasted his former Senate ally as “stupid” and a “fool” and accused him of “incompetence” in a long, tangled statement that jumped from expressing displeasure over Republican votes on a procedural motion related to raising the debt limit in October, to Congress’s passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill this month, to the ongoing Democratic talks over a social spending bill.
Trump’s scathing statement follows several similar attacks in recent days in which he lashed out at “Old Crow” McConnell for voting for the hard infrastructure bill along with 18 other Senate Republicans and 13 House Republicans.
Now Trump is increasing the level of vitriol by slapping “Broken” onto his nickname for the GOP leader.
“McConnell is a fool and he damn well better stop their ‘Dream of Communism Bill’ and keep his Senators in line, or he should resign now, something he should have done a long time ago. Use the Debt Ceiling like it should have been used, you Old Broken Crow, to do so would hurt our Country far less than this horrible Bill,” Trump declared in a statement released through his Save America PAC.
It was the latest shot in a stream of attacks leveled at McConnell since he excoriated the former president on the Senate floor for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 storming of Capitol Hill, which resulted in the deaths of several people, including a Capitol police officer.
McConnell has shrugged off Trump’s “Old Crow” nickname before, joking that it’s a reference to his favorite historical Senate figure, former Sen. Henry Clay of Kentucky.
“Actually, it’s quite an honor,” he quipped in July. “Old Crow is Henry Clay’s favorite bourbon.”
That may be why Trump’s latest statement upped the volume of derision by adding “Broken” to the moniker, as well as slapping him with other schoolyard insults.
Trump argued that McConnell should have used the October expiration of the debt limit to bring Biden’s agenda to a grinding halt by refusing to help Democrats extend the nation’s borrowing authority for two months.
The former president implied that the threat of forcing the nation into a default could have been used to halt the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate in August and Biden signed into law on Monday.
Nineteen Senate Republicans voted to pass the hard infrastructure bill through the Senate this summer and 13 supported its passage through the House on Nov. 5. Those Republicans are now facing backlash from Trump’s allies.
One Trump ally, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), has filed a motion to boot New York Rep. John Katko (R) from his position as the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee because of his vote for the infrastructure bill.
The other 12 House Republicans who voted for the bill are also facing repercussions.
Trump in his statement Wednesday raised the prospect that some Republicans might wind up voting for Biden’s $1.75 trillion climate change and social spending bill, even though no Republican senator or House member has even hinted at doing so.
He argued that the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package is setting the stage for the larger social spending plan, the Build Back Better Act.
“This was all allowed by Mitch McConnell’s incompetence and now I understand that a couple Republican Senators may get on board so that they can have yet another and even bigger victory, for the Democrats, while at the same time ensuring massive Inflation and the destruction of our Country as we know it,” Trump vented.
But some Republicans, including Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a co-author of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, argue that passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill has made it tougher for Democrats to pass their climate and social spending agenda under budget reconciliation. They reason that liberals now have less leverage over centrists such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) because the most popular items on Biden’s agenda have already passed.
Trump, however, insists that holding the nation’s credit rating hostage and threatening the federal government’s ability to pay its debts could have brought Biden’s agenda to a halt.
He slammed the Republicans who voted for the infrastructure package.
“Mitch McConnell couldn’t stop the first Bill so 19 Senators, including himself, joined in. That’s what he does—if you can’t beat them, join them. If he wasn’t so stupid and didn’t give the two-month extension, he could have stopped it all. Now he and his RINO friends will allow a much bigger and far worse Bill to pass, ruining our Country while giving the Democrats a great political lift, all at the same time,” he said.
McConnell has refused to respond to Trump’s attacks and regularly deflects them by saying he’s more focused on fighting what he sees as the most extreme elements of Biden’s agenda, such as $550 billion in new spending to fight climate change.
He defended his vote for the infrastructure bill on Tuesday by noting it “did not raise taxes, did not revisit the 2017 tax bill.”
“From the Kentucky point of view, it was extremely good for our state. I’m proud of my vote,” he said.
McConnell on Tuesday declined to respond to reporting by ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl that he tried to disinvite Trump from Biden’s inauguration ceremony at the Capitol in January.
“Oh, I’m not going to revisit what happened last year. What we’re talking about now is this administration, what it’s doing to the country. That’s what the American people are focused on and that’s what Senate Republicans are focused on,” he said.
And McConnell is holding his cards close to the vest on how he’ll play the upcoming expiration of the debt limit, which is projected for Dec. 15.
“We’ll figure out how to avoid default, we always do,” he said.