“I think it was much smarter to support the infrastructure bill,” he said. “I think it was, A, good for the country, and B, politically smart for us.”
The Democrats have neither given up on the social policy bill nor won over Mr. Manchin, meaning Mr. McConnell and Senate Republicans will have to continue their campaign against the legislation into the new year. Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and majority leader, also plans to move forward with voting rights measures that Mr. McConnell vehemently opposes, and threatens to try to change Senate rules if Republicans try to filibuster it again.
Democrats say Mr McConnell is complicit in allowing certain states to impose new voting restrictions intended to target voters of color, an accusation he rejects, saying the impact of the new laws is exaggerated . He said he trusted Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who recently reaffirmed her opposition to changing the filibuster rules, to stand.
“Kyrsten Sinema has been pretty unequivocal that she will not break the Senate and eliminate the legislative filibuster,” he said. “Thank God.”
One area where Mr. Biden and the Senate Democrats have had some victories is the judicial confirmation, with 40 judges in the president’s first year, a number far more than other recent presidents. It is a topic of special interest to Mr. McConnell, as he pushed conservative judges through the Senate during the Trump era.
“Look, there are some benefits to having the White House,” he said. “I’m not surprised, but the three Supreme Court judges and the 54 circuit judges we’ve had are still here and I think they will be good for the country for a long time to come.”
Mr. McConnell said he believed in his party’s performance this year and that Democrats’ struggles ensured Republicans had strong midterm elections next year and his potential return to running the Senate, no matter which party Mr Manchin sits. Despite that, Mr. Trump McConnell said he intended to avoid the kind of primaries that have hurt Republicans in the past by burdening them with primary winners who falter in general elections.