Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), with welcome candor, recently told Americans what they can expect if Republicans retake the Senate majority. McConnell’s plan is to include policy measures in spending bills that gut Obama administration policies, and if the White House balks, GOP lawmakers will shut down the government.
As it happens, much of what McConnell says in public is what he also says in private.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explained his plan to use a government shutdown as a bargaining chip against President Barack Obama to a room full of wealthy conservatives two months ago, according to audio obtained by The Nation magazine.“So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board. … All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it,” McConnell said at a private summit hosted by the Koch Brothers.
In practice, it means a Republican Congress – if there’s a Republican Congress – might pass a spending bill that includes a policy provision: no money in this bill can be used to implement safeguards against Wall Street. Or fund health care exchanges. Or promote clean air. Or all of the above.
And, of course, if President Obama refuses to go along, the GOP response will be exactly what it was last fall: “Fine. We’re shutting down the government.”
When reports on this initially surfaced, McConnell and his allies pushed back a bit, arguing the Republican leader never explicitly promised more shutdowns if/when the GOP has more power. That said, as Brian Beutler explained well, “McConnell can’t sidestep the implications of his publicly declared strategy. He can’t say ‘when we’re in power, we’re going to put two and two together,’ and then get angry when the headlines say, ‘McConnell promises four.’”
Regardless, that’s not all McConnell said behind closed doors at the Koch brothers’ event in June.
Lauren Windsor also reported this week on other revelations from McConnell’s recorded remarks.
Recently, [McConnell’s challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes] has begun airing ads that criticize McConnell for “voting 17 times against raising the minimum wage” and “12 times against extending unemployment benefits for laid-off workers.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, McConnell himself seems quite proud of this legislative record, at least in front of an audience comprised of wealthy donors. After he lays out his agenda to shrink the federal government “across the board,” McConnell says:“And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage (inaudible) – cost the country 500,000 new jobs; extending unemployment – that’s a great message for retirees; uh, the student loan package the other day, that’s just going to make things worse, uh. These people believe in all the wrong things.”
It’s almost as if McConnell feels put upon, voting on all of these “wrong,” popular measures that help working families and boost the economy.
Apparently, if he’s made Majority Leader, there will be no more votes “these gosh darn proposals.” The Republican-led Senate will be too busy shutting down the government to worry about “things like raising the minimum wage,” anyway.