McConnell: GOP Will Barter Over Automatic Spending Cuts

McConnell: GOP Will Barter Over Automatic Spending Cuts

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Republicans that they will have to negotiate with Democrats over spending levels.

As Con­gress pre­pares to pass a short-term con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion, put­ting off a gov­ern­ment shut­down for a few months, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell warned Re­pub­lic­ans Wed­nes­day that they’ll have to ne­go­ti­ate with Demo­crats to roll back loom­ing spend­ing cuts later this year.

“We are in­ev­it­ably go­ing to end up in ne­go­ti­ations that will crack the Budget Con­trol Act once again,” Mc­Con­nell said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day. “Now let me just say this about the Budget Con­trol Act. Be­fore we star­ted re­vis­it­ing it, it ac­tu­ally did a pretty good job. We re­duced gov­ern­ment spend­ing for two years in a row for the first time since the Korean War. … But there’s a lot of pres­sure in Con­gress to spend more; the ad­min­is­tra­tion cer­tainly wants to spend more.”

Passing a clean con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion in the next few weeks, which Mc­Con­nell again em­phas­ized should not in­clude meas­ures favored by con­ser­vat­ives to end fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood, “will give time for us to en­gage with the ad­min­is­tra­tion in de­term­in­ing how much we’re go­ing to spend and where we’re go­ing to spend it” later this year, he said.

Though he called it “un­for­tu­nate,” Mc­Con­nell said his warn­ing was born of prac­tic­al­ity. Demo­crats blocked sev­er­al spend­ing meas­ures earli­er this year, telling Re­pub­lic­ans that they would not pass any new fund­ing bills un­less the ma­jor­ity agreed to turn back se­quest­ra­tion cuts on nondefense pro­grams. And, Mc­Con­nell said, Pres­id­ent Obama is “in a key po­s­i­tion” to veto any new spend­ing bills that al­low se­quest­ra­tion cuts to go through as planned.

Many con­ser­vat­ives in both cham­bers would rather see an­oth­er con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion passed later this year or early next year than to raise the spend­ing caps for nondefense pro­grams. But Mc­Con­nell, a Sen­ate tra­di­tion­al­ist, has long pushed for Con­gress to go through the reg­u­lar ap­pro­pri­ations pro­cess and pass new spend­ing bills. That, he said, will re­quire com­prom­ise. But not just with Demo­crats.

“We’ll be forced in­to a dis­cus­sion about how much we’re go­ing to spend,” Mc­Con­nell said. “We know our Demo­crat­ic friends’ goal is to spend more money on everything. As all of you know, I’ve got mem­bers who want to spend more on de­fense—I put my­self in that group as well—and we’ll enter in­to a clas­sic ne­go­ti­ation. We can work out our dif­fer­ences and fund the gov­ern­ment.”

Mc­Con­nell’s an­nounce­ment is a coup for Demo­crats who have been block­ing spend­ing bills for months to force the lead­er to sit down at the table with them and hash out a se­quest­ra­tion-re­lief plan for both de­fense and nondefense spend­ing.

With se­quest­ra­tion caps threat­en­ing de­fense spend­ing as well, some Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors, in­clud­ing Lind­sey Gra­ham and John Mc­Cain, have already be­gun talks with Demo­crat­ic mem­bers to find a com­prom­ise. But it is much less clear how the House will re­act to fund­ing bills that raise spend­ing caps for nondefense pro­grams and wheth­er there are enough votes in that cham­ber to pass such le­gis­la­tion.

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