This is also an attempt at political interference. The White House, which organized the event, specifically invited McConnell, along with other senators and governors from Kentucky and Ohio.

Biden aides and allies say they are counting on the minority leader to remain something of a deterrent against the GOP’s risky impulses — a move stirred by chaos on the House floor this week over the election of a new speaker. The White House recognizes the need to avoid a government shutdown, continue aid to Ukraine, and prevent catastrophic breaches of the debt ceiling. They see McConnell as the key to all those things.

“There are still going to be strong partisan differences on most issues,” said a White House adviser. “But they both understand that when you can agree, you must do what is in the best interest of the country and what serves your political purpose.”

The Biden-McConnell relationship is, to a degree, anachronistic. The two men served together in the Senate for decades. And he has a history of cutting deals dating back to the Obama era, when he reached an agreement to extend Bush tax cuts, raise the debt ceiling and lift the so-called fiscal cliff that averted an economic recession. Biden, as vice president, appeared at the McConnell Center in Louisville in 2011, where he praised the senator at a time when Kentucky Republicans were openly trying to oust their boss from power. Four years later, McConnell was the only Republican to attend the funeral of Biden’s son Beau.

“They have known each other for decades,” Sen said. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a close McConnell ally. “And Joe Biden is a hard man not to like, even though you may disagree with him on policy.”

Since Biden was elected, aides to both men said, the two have maintained a working relationship as well as a shared belief that the Senate can still work. McConnell helped pass the Shepherd bills, along with bipartisan infrastructure legislation to boost semiconductor manufacturing and improve gun safety.

On this occasion Biden went so far as to refer to McConnell as a “friend” and sought his advice in formulating US policy towards Myanmar, an area in which the Republican leader is deeply interested. At one point last year, the White House planned to nominate an anti-abortion judge backed by McConnell to Kentucky’s district court — a plan stalled only after fellow Republican Sen. rand paul refused to sign what he called a “secret deal”.

Paul and GOP Sen. JD Vance of Ohio were also invited to appear with Biden on Wednesday, a White House official said, but neither is expected to attend.

Covington, Ky. The event, to be held in Washington, D.C., is part of a broader administration blitz to promote Biden’s legislative achievements, focusing on nearly $1.6 billion in funding from that infrastructure bill, which is a key contest between Kentucky and Ohio. Will go to the bridge project.

It also comes at a political crossroads for both men, with Biden eyeing a possible reelection campaign and McConnell picking up the pieces of a failed Republican effort to win back control of the Senate.

It’s a particularly opportune time for the administration, offering a split-screen moment with House Republicans as they tussle for another day over who should lead them. By highlighting McConnell’s investment in the state, officials are clearly trying to broaden Biden’s cross-isle appeal with voters — and draw a stark contrast with the partisan hostility that the White House is facing with the new GOP- As expected from the controlling house.

A White House adviser said of the calculation behind the event, “Biden is absolutely sending a message to the American people that there are people you can trust to govern.” “And then there’s the House Republican Caucus.”

But where McConnell’s presence may represent the prospects for bipartisanship over the next two years, the impasse in the House underscores the challenges Biden faces. As he prepares for a series of demonstrations on critical issues such as the federal budget, funding for Ukraine and the debt ceiling, there is little to suggest that the White House has power through the GOP-led House chamber. Any luck would be a law to run from.

Administration officials have tried to play up Biden’s record in reaching agreement — and make clear to McConnell and other deal-minded Republicans that they are open to a bipartisan coalition aimed at finding small areas of agreement.

“I think it’s starting to reach people out there: Look what bipartisanship looks like,” Sen said. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who will also attend the event. “It’s a $1.6 billion investment. It took a new president and a new Senate to make it happen.

Although McConnell has opposed much of Biden’s agenda, he has opposed the most extreme demands of the GOP’s conservative base — including outright rejecting the idea of ​​impeachment.

However, aides to both Biden and McConnell cautioned against reading too much into Wednesday’s joint appearance. There is little hope for either side that Biden and McConnell will quickly find other shared legislative goals. The Brent Spence Bridge incident, he noted, serves to benefit their respective interests.

For McConnell, funding for the project would help break a long impasse over how to pay for repairs to a critical roadway between Kentucky and Ohio — and provide a victory for a legislator who has consistently delivered for his constituents. has strengthened its political power over the decades.

“This is a bridge that has been a major national issue for 25 years, and my top transportation project for decades,” McConnell said in a brief interview. “And it’s going to be completely funded by the infrastructure bill, which I supported.”

The White House, for its part, is using the opportunity of what is likely to be an extended campaign to emphasize the impact of the infrastructure law, which aides believe most voters do not yet fully understand. Have found Biden’s advisers believe the public relations effort is just as important to the president’s popularity ahead of an anticipated bid for re-election, especially with his policy ambitions limited by the GOP blockade in the House.

“At the end of 2022, President Biden spoke to the nation that his most important achievements in the first two years of his term were bipartisan achievements,” Sen said. chris coon (D-Del.), who said Wednesday’s incident with McConnell shows the president “understands that we make our best progress as a country when we do it together.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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