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Mitch McConnell says he prays for Manchin and Sinema 'every night' to oppose Biden's $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/9/2021 bmetzger@insider.com (Bryan Metzger)
Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik © Provided by Business Insider Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
  • McConnell spoke about his opposition to a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill pushed by Democrats.
  • "I pray for Manchin and Sinema every night," McConnell said of the two moderate Democratic senators.
  • The bill is central to Democrats' agenda and includes numerous social welfare investments.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Speaking to a group in Kentucky on Thursday, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that he's counting on moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to block a core part of President Joe Biden's agenda.

"I pray for Manchin and Sinema every night, give them a lot of love, wish them well, and hope they can withstand the pressure," said McConnell, alluding to the fact that Democrats and progressives alike are counting on the two senators to eventually support the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill under consideration this month.

"I can't speak for either one of them, but I think they know this is the wrong thing to do for the country," McConnell added. "I hope party loyalty is not a strong enough argument - or 'do it for the president' is not a strong enough argument - to prevent the defeat of this extraordinarily ill advised proposal."

Manchin and Sinema have both said that they are opposed to the $3.5 trillion dollar price tag for the bill, which includes investments in social welfare programs like tuition-free community college, universal pre-K, Medicare expansion, and an extension of Biden's child allowance. Last week, Manchin said Democrats should "hit the pause button" on the legislation and urged Democrats to make cuts to the overall price tag.

"It's a big deal, it's hard to deny that," said McConnell. "Whether or not it's a good deal is another matter."

The bill is central to President Biden's legislative agenda and progressives have been outspoken in their support of the bill. After House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn said on Wednesday that the $3.5 trillion price tag was the ceiling, rather than the floor, of the legislation's overall cost, progressive Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib said on Twitter that "$3.5T is the floor."

At the same time, McConnell comments underscore how little Republicans are able to influence the process; if Manchin and Sinema can be persuaded to support the bill - or some version of it - along with the rest of the Democratic caucus, the legislation would pass in the Senate.

That's due to Senate rules around the reconciliation process, which allows certain budget-related legislation to pass with just 50 votes, rather than the usual 60-vote threshold.

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