Joe Biden has said he would trust Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans over an infrastructure deal, if he “looks me in the eye and give me his word.”
Speaking after he met with Mr McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, the GOP leader in the Senate to discuss a proposed infrastructure deal, Mr Biden was asked how he could trust someone who had voted not to recognise the election.
“You were trying to make a deal today in a room with Kevin McCarthy, where what he was doing before he came up here was expelling Liz Cheney from his leadership group for saying things like, the election is over, as she said last night on the House floor,” said interviewer Lawrence O’Donnell.
“And Kevin McCarthy is the same person who supported Liz Cheney just weeks ago.”
He added: “How can you accept whatever someone like Kevin McCarthy says today as something that you’re actually going to legislate a few weeks from now or months from now?”
Mr Biden said he thought it was possible to “have a deal.”
“If a man looks me in the eye, gives me his word that something’s going to happen, I take it unless he breaks it,” he said.
“He may have broken his word to somebody else, but to me, has he made that deal - we’re nowhere near having made a deal.”
After the meeting, Mr McCarthy, the GOP leader in the House of Representatives, said Republicans were willing to work with the president, but would not support any tax increases to pay for the programmes.
“You won’t find any Republicans who are gonna go raise taxes. I think that’s the worst thing you can do in this economy,” said Mr McCarthy, who earlier in the day had overseen the removal of Liz Cheney from her position as the third-ranking Republican in the lower chamber. She was forced out after refusing to accept Donald Trump’s false claim the 2020 election was rigged, and voted to impeach him.
Mr Biden told Mr O’Donnell: “The Liz Cheney, McCarthy thing is above my pay grade. I mean, I have enough trouble figuring out my own party all the time, let alone the Republicans.”
Mr Biden campaigned to become president as someone who would seek bipartisan support from Republicans to help pass his agenda to tackle the nation’s most pressing problems, something some Democrats have limited sympathy with.
Mr Biden again said he wanted to have the Republicans on board but warned he would not allow them to dilute his progressive ambitions.
“I want to make it clear. I want to get a bipartisan deal on as much as we get a bipartisan deal on. And that means roads, bridges, broadband and all infrastructure,” he said. “But I’m not giving up on the fact that we have two million women not able to go back to work because all the day care centres are closed, they’re out of business. And so they can’t go back to work.”
He added: “I’m not going to give up on a whole range of things that go to the question of productivity, of increasing jobs, of increasing employment, increasing revenues.”
At stake are the future of two huge bills the president is determined to pass and sign into law – a $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill and a $1.8 trillion education and childcare plan. Earlier this year, shortly after taking office, he oversaw the passage a $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan that passed, without Republican support, in March.
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