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The most important relationship in the capital? Biden and McConnell have a history

Power dynamics in Washington, DC next year It will center around two men With 80 years in office in between, they have a history of making deals and rivalries and who sometimes refer to each other as friends.

Approaching Manage it, The relationship between President-elect Joe Biden Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican-Kentucky, takes center stage. With a Senate so closely divided, their personal interactions will be key to the extent, if any, of the new president’s agenda can be accomplished.

Those who know both men say they enjoy mutual respect and have built a level of trust between them over the years – which could be key to being able to facilitate agreements. But those familiar with the couple – and the current hyper-party political situation – say this will go to far.

Former Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican from NEP and later Secretary of Defense under former President Barack Obama, told NBC News that he believed the Biden-McConnell dynamic “could work in the interest of our country.”

“They both know how to condescend,” Hagel said. They both know how to get things done. I start with the fact that they trust each other, that they love each other, which is important. And if you start out there as a baseline, you can work together. They “won’t agree on everything, of course not, but they can make things work and push This country forward. “

McConnell, who was the only Republican senator to attend Bo Biden’s funeral in 2015, call Biden is a “true friend” and “reliable partner” at the end of the Obama administration.

Biden, who appeared in 2011 at McConnell Center in Kentucky, has been promoting and distancing himself from his relationship with McConnell during his presidential campaign, cementing his ability to do business with top Republicans while referring to him in an initial debate as “the biggest pain in my neck in a long time.” “.

In the Obama administration, when negotiations between Republicans in the Senate and the White House stalled, Biden – who had served in the Senate for more than 30 years – was often taken advantage of to get a deal across the finish line.

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Don Graves, Vice President Biden’s director of domestic and economic policy from 2014, said: “I think the president-elect believed that in mutual friendship and respect, you can find a way to come to an understanding and agreement.” To 2017. “There was no point I thought, at least back then, that I knew, that they went away after saying things that they would regret later.”

Few have seen the negotiations between the two closely related, as they have previously struck deals to extend Bush’s tax cuts, raise the debt ceiling and pass the 21st Century Remedy Act. Sources familiar with their relationship told NBC News that those conversations often took place over the phone and only in the presence of the two men and staff.

While the two men are not alike, a former senior McConnell aide told NBC News that the personal differences between them were in fact conducive to reaching agreements.

The former aide said, “If you know anything about Senator McConnell, he’s not a particularly extreme person. He’s very good at listening, and as he has said time and time again, he allows himself the luxury of unspoken thinking.” “So, he’s very quiet in these conversations. Lots of listening, meddling where he feels he needs to intervene, but other than that, he’s absorbing everything.”

And the person continued: “But President-elect Biden – or Vice President Biden at that time – is exactly the opposite.” “He is very talkative. He is a social person by nature. That was a beneficial kind of yin and yang relationship because his tendency to talk is how we found places of potential compromise.”

McConnell and other Republicans over the years have made clear their preference for Biden over Obama. In 2016, McConnell said“The man to negotiate with in the administration was the vice president, not the president.”

“ What was evident at a high level among the congressional leadership is, and I can’t tell you why, because it’s nothing President Obama does – he’s always been generous and kind to them – but there were some people who didn’t accept the fact that it was, said Phil Schiller, director of legislative affairs. In the White House during the Obama era, to NBC News, and this coldness was always evident. This was not the case with Vice President Biden.

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Reflecting on his dealings with Republicans, Obama this month expressed satisfaction with the recent coverage of the Biden-McConnell relationship.

“I’m enjoying reading now about how Joe Biden and Mitch have been friends for so long,” Obama said Tell the Atlantic. “They did a favour Each other for a long time. I have quotes from Biden about his dealings with Mitch McConnell. “

However, direct engagement with Biden would likely put McConnell in good spirits. A source familiar with McConnell’s association with Biden as Vice President and President Donald Trump described stark contrast to McConnell’s behavior upon returning from negotiations with every man. The source told NBC News that this was in part because Biden had realistic expectations of what McConnell could and could not do while Trump had not.

“Everyone saw him coming back from those discussions,” this person said of McConnell’s colleagues after talks with Biden. And they witnessed his condition when he returned from those phone calls with the current president.

Still, Democrats and Republicans alike might not feel warm and fuzzy at the idea of ​​Biden and McConnell striking deals in the backroom.

For Biden, Democrats sometimes took him to account for his dealings with McConnell, and they felt the Senator overcame him – a feeling Biden sought to slap him during the Democratic primaries. He recently spoke with NBC NewsWalid Shahid of the progressive Justice Democrats group warned Biden against making “any kind of toxic deals with” McConnell. And the Some Democrats in the Senate are calling Biden To powerfully utilize executive procedure to accomplish the more progressive elements of his agenda, completely bypassing McConnell because they believe it is likely to be an obstacle to what the party wants to accomplish in legislative terms.

On the flip side, McConnell’s party rally is likely to include several senators who want to run for president in 2024 and are unlikely to be keen on striking deals with Biden and giving the Democrats any kind of victories. McConnell will weigh their needs with those of his members who seek re-election in 2022 and who may wish to bring home bipartisan accomplishments, as well as others more open to bipartisan bargaining such as Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

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Other variables still play a role, most notably the party that controls the Senate after the Georgia run-off election on January 5, as well as the role Trump chooses to take on in Republican politics after he leaves office.

Looking back at the Obama presidency, the Republican rulebook was to direct as much of the president’s agenda as possible. Some don’t see this changing simply because an old friend is in power now.

“The Senate has changed dramatically since Joe Biden was in the Senate,” said former Senator Claire McCaskill, a political analyst at NBC News and MSNBC, referring to a time when there was more fellowship and reach across the corridor. “I think that will be reminded on a permanent basis.”

With Trump He refused to admit The Election resultsMcConnell did not publicly refer to Biden as the victor. When it comes to their future dealings, Biden has downplayed McConnell’s bias toward Trump after the election.

Current dynamics are leading observers to doubt the likelihood of any transformational legislation being passed, but they say the personal relationship between Biden and McConnell could bear fruit in a more orderly process of bills that must be passed, reducing the risk of a government shutdown. Democrats and Republicans who spoke with NBC News expected the relationship could bear fruit in areas such as infrastructure, technology, broadband expansion and mitigation of the novel coronavirus.

A former aide to the Senate leadership of the Republican Party told NBC News of future negotiations between Biden and McConnell, “There will probably be some hard punches. But I think they’re both very well equipped as well to throw a punch and then move on. I think part of that is. They are legitimate at heart and understand the game. “

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