- McConnell said the final version of Build Back Better would be "written by Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema."
- He also defended the infrastructure bill, saying Republicans had separated "sugar from the spinach."
- "The single biggest favor he could do for the country would be to defeat the whole thing," he said of Manchin.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the final version of the Democrats' $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" social spending bill will be "written by Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema," the two moderate Democrats that have frustrated progressives with various objections to the legislation central to President Joe Biden's agenda.
"The House bill will come over, [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer will offer a substitute, and the substitute will be written by Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema," he said. "If there is no substitute, it would mean that neither of them got on board."
The Kentucky Republican made the remarks in an interview on "Flyover Country with Scott Jennings," a podcast hosted by conservative media consultant Scott Jennings, that was released on Friday.
McConnell sought to defend his vote in favor of a bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the House last week, which garnered 19 Republican votes in the Senate in August but just 13 Republican votes in the other chamber last Friday. Those 13 Republicans now face calls to lose their committee assignments and threatening calls from constituents.
"Infrastructure is something we needed, unlike all the rest of what they're trying to do," said McConnell. "This infrastructure bill was simply written by a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. A completely separate measure, a separate bill about infrastructure."
McConnell made the case that Republicans had achieved their policy goals by unlinking the infrastructure bill from the social spending bill, separating the "sugar from the spinach" in order to make it harder for Democrats to pass Build Back Better bill once the infrastructure bill had been signed.
"I thought it was good for the country, and good for us politically, and the right thing to do," he said. "And just the way I predicted, that's the way it turned out. The good parts now passed, and gone to the President for signature, and they're stuck with the rest."
After months of infighting, the House of Representatives will again seek to hold a vote on the Build Back Better bill next week as several House Democratic moderates have asked to see further information about the bill's fiscal impact before voting. But McConnell said the fight in the House is "irrelevant" compared to what happens in the Senate.
It's not the first time McConnell has referred to Mancin and Sinema approvingly. In September, he said he prayed for the pair of Democrats "every night" and hopes they "can withstand the pressure" from the other 48 members of the Democratic caucus, all of whom supported a $3.5 trillion bill until Manchin's objections caused it to shrink by half.
McConnell also praised Manchin for calling attention to inflation in a statement earlier this week.
-Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) November 10, 2021
"Manchin, to his credit, is talking about inflation and questioning, I think, whether this needs to be done at all," said McConnell. "The single biggest favor he could do for the country would be to defeat the whole thing."
"That would take a lot of courage, and we'll see whether he's willing to go that far," he added.