Virginia's McAuliffe Says 'Everybody' in Congress at Fault for Stalled Infrastructure Bill

Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate castigated Washington leadership on Tuesday on both sides of the aisle, including the president, imploring them to "get their act together" and pushing Senate Democrats to do away with the filibuster if necessary to make progress on infrastructure and voting rights.

Terry McAuliffe's sharp criticisms were delivered in an interview with the Associated Press just weeks before Election Day in Virginia. He's facing off against Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin in a race that will act as an early litmus test for Democrats' grasp on the nation's votes during President Joe Biden's first year in office.

"They all got to get their act together and vote," McAuliffe said.

Asked specifically if he was calling out Biden, McAuliffe said, "I put everybody there."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Terry McAuliffe
Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday called on leaders in Washington from both parties—including President Joe Biden—to “get their act together" while pushing Senate Democrats to scrap the filibuster if needed to enact the party's priorities on infrastructure spending and voting rights. Above, McAuliffe addresses the Virginia FREE Leadership Luncheon in McLean, Virginia, on September 1, 2021. Cliff Owen, File/AP Photo

Polls suggest the race is close, adding to McAuliffe's sense of urgency to campaign on a robust list of his party's accomplishments. The McAuliffe campaign confirmed Tuesday that Biden and former President Barack Obama would rally voters in the state later in the month at separate events.

Despite the outside support, McAuliffe has been deeply frustrated by his party's inability to fulfill key campaign promises since taking control of the White House and both chambers of Congress in January. In Tuesday's interview, the 64-year-old lamented the Democrats' inability to protect voting rights against a wave of Republican-backed legislation, but he saved his sharpest comments for the stalled federal infrastructure package.

McAuliffe's frustration underlies a bigger concern for Democrats nationally entering the first midterm election season of the Biden presidency. The president's approval ratings are sagging, and there are signs in Virginia and elsewhere that rank-and-file Democrats aren't energized to vote.

A bad result for Democrats in Virginia, where former President Donald Trump lost by 10 points last fall, would likely signal a far more painful election next year, when control of Congress and dozens of governor's offices are at stake.

But with a stalled legislative agenda in Washington, Democratic voters don't appear excited to participate in Virginia's off-year election—particularly with Trump no longer in office or on the ballot. Trump has endorsed Youngkin, but he has played a low-profile role in the Virginia contest so far.

"I tell Democrats: Donald Trump is desperate for a win here," McAuliffe said. "If Glenn Youngkin wins, it's a win for Donald Trump, and you're going to begin his political comeback."

In the interview, McAuliffe waded into the high-stakes debate over Senate rules that allow the minority party to block legislation that doesn't muster at least 60 votes, a process known as the filibuster. Biden said last week that Democrats are considering a change to the filibuster rules in order to quickly approve lifting the nation's debt limit and avoid what would be a devastating credit default.

On the debt limit, voting rights and the infrastructure package, McAuliffe said Democrats should do "whatever it takes to get it done."

"They got to get their work done. People are counting on them. Do your job. I don't care what you call it or what mechanism you use," he said. "I'm for doing whatever the Senate has to do to pass meaningful legislation that will move this country forward."