Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Joe Biden and Democrats were not given a mandate by the people "to completely transform the country" in an interview with FOX News host Harris Faulkner on Wednesday.
HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Joining me now with reaction, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky.
Great to see you today.
I want to jump right in with the stakes and what they are and why Democrats are doing this now, Senator.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, they're very anxious, Harris, to transform the country immediately, even though the American people sent a 50/50 Senate and a narrowly divided House.
I don't think they were sending a message that it was a mandate to completely transform the country in every way liberals want to do that. And so they view the Senate rule, which has been there forever, that requires a supermajority of 60 to do most of the things we do, as an unnecessary inconvenience.
Now, bear in mind, this is the same Dick Durbin who two years ago was defending this as absolutely the essence of the Senate.
MCCONNELL: So, I guess where they stand depends on where they sit.
And so, when they are in a position to advance the ball, they don't care. In contrast, President Trump tried to get me to orchestrate the elimination of the filibuster for a number of years, even tweeted about it.
I said: No, Mr. President, that's not in the best interests of the institution and actually not in your best interests either. I said no.
They are -- they are prepared to steamroll the Senate into a majoritarian body, just like the House because it inconveniently gets in the way of all they want to do...
MCCONNELL: ... to run up the debt, to raise taxes.
And you have seen the disaster at the border.
FAULKNER: Well, look, Senator, I'm taking a look at what the plans are to spend a lot more money on infrastructure. And that's something that Republicans and Democrats might agree on. But that price tag, that is something else.
So, look, you mentioned it yourself, that you were asked to do this by the former president. Here are Democrats on the filibuster back when Trump was president:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about that nuclear option, doing away with the filibuster?
DURBIN: Well, I can tell you, that would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our founding fathers.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): The point is, we still left the 60 votes in place...
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Right. Would you bring it back? Yes.
KLOBUCHAR: ... for the Supreme Court, and Mitch McConnell changed that.
I would prefer to bring it back.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the Senate becomes like a majoritarian institution like the House, much more subject to the winds of short-term electoral change.
No senator would like to see this happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FAULKNER: End of the Senate. You called it scorched earth.
What is all of that about? How bad is it about to get if this happens?
MCCONNELL: Well, Schumer had it right two years ago. That's what he thought then.
But he is yielding to the pressure of the hard left to turn the Senate into a speedway, as opposed to a place where things are paused and thought over.
The Senate was created on purpose, Harris, not to function like the House, to slow things down, to kill bad ideas, to force bipartisanship, all the things that the Democrats believed in, as long as there was a Republican in the White House, or conveniently thrown aside as soon as they think there is a chance that they can advance their steamroller agenda, which the American people, by the way, certainly did not give them a mandate to pursue in last November's election.
FAULKNER: Senator, scorched earth, what is that to you?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think what I predicted our reaction to them fundamentally turning the Senate into the House would be to make it difficult for the Senate to function.
For example, in a 50/50 Senate, it will still be hard for them to achieve things. It takes 51 to make a quorum. Without 51 votes, you can't do business.
Almost every day, most of the things we do, Harris, are about consent. You hear senators saying: I ask unanimous consent that we do this, that or the other. Any one senator can object to a consent request.
My point being that the fact that they get rid of the filibuster doesn't mean the Senate will work better. It means the Senate will work worse. And it is a step in the wrong direction for the institution and for the country.
I hope Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, who have similar views to mine, will stand strong, protect the institution.
MCCONNELL: It'll be in the best interests of both parties in the long run.
FAULKNER: Well, and I know Kyrsten Sinema, voted, when she was a congresswoman, with Donald Trump before she became a senator, 60 percent of the time. So, you may get some movement there.
If you don't, are you going to be blocking President Biden?
MCCONNELL: Well, so far, the president is not supporting things that many Republicans think are a good idea.
We certainly will oppose the things that we feel are not in the best interests of the country, whether we are able to do that by requiring 60 votes, or whether it's done with a simple 51.
What we sign up for with the Biden administration will depend on what they try to do. You mentioned infrastructure. If it's infrastructure, that's one thing. If it's a Trojan horse that includes a massive tax increase, that's another.
And that's exactly what I think, Harris, they have in mind, is to call it an infrastructure bill, but, in fact, in it, they will have a massive tax increase to, in effect, reverse the tax reform that we enacted in 2017, when we had an entirely Republican government.
FAULKNER: Oh, that's interesting, yes, kind of like what they're doing at the border, which I want to get to in just a second.
I have a quick question before we leave this relationship within the Senate.
You have known this president for, what, four decades, back when he was a senator. Is this the person that you thought he would be as president? He promised unity, bipartisanship. That is not what the American people are watching him deliver.
MCCONNELL: Yes, you're right.
Joe Biden is a really nice guy. Everybody liked him. I never remembered him as a moderate. So, Harris, I'm not surprised that he's not a moderate. He just seemed moderate, I guess, running for the nomination, compared to everyone else who wanted to be president.
So, I'm not surprised that this is a left-wing administration. I anticipated it. And that's why it's going to be very difficult to craft bipartisan agreements, because they want to jam things through their way, hard left, which I don't think the American people expect any bipartisanship to support.
Well, 2022 is going to be here in no time. And I can imagine you and other Republicans will work on the numbers in the House and Senate.
I'll move to this.
House lawmakers have been grilling Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas right now on why the administration won't call the border situation a crisis. Here's what he said just a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: If we want to speak of language, then let me speak of language.
I will share with you how I define a crisis. A crisis is when a nation is willing to rip a 9-year-old child out of the hands of his or her parent and separate that family to deter future migration. That, to me, is a humanitarian crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FAULKNER: Senator, your response?
MCCONNELL: My definition of a crisis is when you send the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which only goes to emergencies, down to the border, it is, by definition, an emergency.
This administration walked away from the policy the previous administration was able to negotiate with the Mexican government, where people are detained on the other side of the border. That allows that influx into our country, and then they're caught up in the system, which is largely going to remain under this administration a catch-and-release approach.
Certainly, we want to take care of the children. But this is about a lot more than these youngsters. This is about whether or not the federal government will contain the border. The previous administration did an excellent job on border security. This administration is stopping funding for the wall, as an example.
How's that helpful? Stopping the agreement with the Mexican government to contain people on the other side of the border, how is that helpful?
MCCONNELL: This is a crisis. I don't care what the secretary of homeland security wants to call it. It's a crisis that they created, this administration.
FAULKNER: Real -- my time with you -- my time with you is short, so I want to get this in.
When you see the situation at the border, and all the other things that are coming down the pike from what you said you expected this to be, a left, liberal government under Biden, how mighty is the fight for you in leadership and Republicans to make sure that there is balance, and that the agenda gets even approaching what those 75 million people wanted who voted for Trump and didn't vote for Biden?
MCCONNELL: Well, we're going to do everything we can to force this administration to the middle.
If they eliminate the filibuster, we will make it difficult still in a 50/50 Senate for them to pass hard left legislation. And, hopefully, there will be some Democrats who agree with us that America did not, last November, give a mandate to all the left-wingers who dominate in the Biden administration and who clearly predominate in the House, and a majority of the Democrats in the Senate.
We will be looking for moderate Democrats who want to stop the steamroller, with or without the continuation of the legislative filibuster.
FAULKNER: Are you -- last question.
Are you disappointed in how this president has chosen to go forward?
MCCONNELL: Yes, I'm disappointed, but not surprised.
The definition of bipartisanship is to meet in the middle. And, Harris, so far, they haven't chosen to do that on anything I can think of.
When they do want to meet us in the middle, we will be happy to talk. If they're trying to jam a hard left agenda through the American -- through the American -- to put that on the American people, a hard left agenda, you can expect us to put up a stiff fight with the 50 Republican senators that the American people sent us last November.
FAULKNER: That sounds, in fact, like a warning.