Kentucky Politics

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized President Joe Biden’s proposals to expand infrastructure, boost renewable energy and fund pre-kindergarten, all of which he outlined in his first address to Congress on Wednesday.

During the speech, Kentucky’s senior Republican senator got a shout-out from the Democratic president for naming a cancer research bill after his late son, Beau Biden, but McConnell still panned the address as a “lengthy liberal daydream.”

On the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell accused Biden of “imposing a vision” on the country and not seeking out support from Republicans.

“The president talked about unity and togetherness while reading off a multi-trillion-dollar shopping list that was neither designed nor intended to earn bipartisan buy-in,” McConnell said.

During the speech on the eve of his 100th day in office, Biden outlined the $2 trillion American Families Plan, which would fund two years of community college and two years of pre-kindergarten across the country.

Biden proposed funding the program by raising taxes on the wealthy, including a rollback of the tax cuts Congress passed in 2017.

The plan would guarantee that parents don’t have to spend more than 7% of their incomes on child care for kids up to age 5.

McConnell called Biden a “likable person” but said the president is “dragging a divided country farther and faster to the left” with an expensive agenda.

“This administration wants to jack up taxes in order to nudge families toward the kinds of jobs Democrats want them to have, in the kinds of industries Democrats want to exist, with the kinds of cars Democrats want them to drive, using the kinds of childcare arrangements that Democrats want them to pursue,” McConnell said.

Biden’s first months in office have been marked by massive spending proposals, including the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that passed Congress last month with no Republican votes.

Biden has also proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill to fund construction and repairs of roads, bridges and water systems while also addressing racial equity and climate change.

Kentucky’s lone Democrat in Congress, House Budget Chair John Yarmuth, praised Biden’s proposals as “ambitious and thoughtful.”

“We must aim for more than just a return to a status quo where too many Americans were left behind. We must continue to build on the progress we’ve made, and I thank President Biden for his bold leadership in this trying time,” Yarmuth said in a statement.

Biden has proposed more than $6 trillion in new spending, including the nearly $2 trillion included in the already-passed coronavirus relief bill.

Passing all of the proposals will be difficult with McConnell presiding over Republicans in the Senate, which has a 50-50 partisan split.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.