Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on October 20 in Washington, DC. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Mitch McConnell took aim at Democrats for their hardball approach to passing more stimulus.

The party has moved to use budget reconciliation to pass a $1.9 trillion plan without GOP support.

McConnell used the same strategy when in the majority, including for tax cuts in 2017.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Democrats for a lack of bipartisanship Monday as they prepared to push through President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in a way meant to avoid a filibuster.

McConnell said this method meant the Democrats had “chosen a totally partisan path,” according to the Associated Press, adding: “That’s unfortunate.”

The tactic in question is budget reconciliation, a way of bringing legislation to the Senate floor that lowers the voting bar to 51 from 60 and avoids the prospect of the opposing party killing it via the filibuster.

Despite McConnell’s criticism, he and Republicans have taken the same route to pass measures without help from the opposing party. One example is the series of sweeping tax cuts in 2017 that formed a centerpiece of President Donald Trump’s term.

Not a single GOP senator supported Biden’s stimulus plan in a Tuesday vote, suggesting the measure would not get far via conventional means.

The Senate is split exactly 50 votes to 50 across the two parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the casting vote. Ordinarily, a supermajority of 60 is needed to break a filibuster.

But in opting for budget reconciliation, the Democrats can pass bills relating to taxation, spending and debt with a simple majority of 51, and are shielded from filibusters with a 20-hour limit on debate.

Biden met with a group of 10 Republicans Monday night, led by Sen. Susan Collins, who earlier formed part of the bipartisan group that nudged stimulus discussions forward at the end of Trump’s term. But the $618 billion counter-offer they made wasn’t enough, Biden decided.

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The $1.9 trillion stimulus plan includes $1,400 checks for most Americans, federal unemployment support through September, as well as state and local government aid and vaccine distribution support.

The Republicans’ much smaller plan has numerous differences, including reducing those checks to $1,000, ending less-generous federal unemployment support on June 30, and removing state and local government aid.

McConnell’s jab appeared to be aimed at the calls for unity and bipartisanship that came up repeatedly in Biden’s inauguration speech – and which was a hallmark of his campaigning style.

But since taking office, Biden has issued a flurry of executive orders, a unilateral move that cuts out all deal-making with the opposing party.

Both parties have resorted to budget reconciliation to force legislation through in the past, however.

In 2017, with McConnell as Senate majority leader, Republicans used the mechanism to push through major tax reforms on a wafer-thin majority of 51. No Democratic senators voted in favor.

Former President Barack Obama also used budget reconciliation to pass the Affordable Care Act in the face of GOP resistance in 2010, as The New York Times reported at the time.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that there was still room for Republicans to shape the COVID-19 stimulus bill even after it is forced through by Democrats.

“Republican ideas can be adopted during the reconciliation negotiations, and it is likely that several bipartisan ideas may be – or we are certainly hopeful of that,” she said.

McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Originally published February 3, 2021, 4:13 AM