Mitch McConnell: I'll Rein in Obama Spending After Midterms

Image: Mitch McConnell: I'll Rein in Obama Spending After Midterms (Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Landov)

Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 08:51 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to issue a policy ultimatum to President Barack Obama if the GOP takes over control of the upper chamber in the midterm elections, Politico reported.

The Kentucky Republican will warn the president that he must cut back on his spending bills or risk a government shutdown similar to the one last year in a failed GOP bid to prevent the launch of Obamacare, the political website said, citing an interview it conducted with McConnell.

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McConnell told Politico his strategy as Senate majority leader would consist of attaching riders to spending bills affecting a variety of Obama’s policies, ranging from environmental controls to more healthcare changes.

The 72-year-old politician would also push the president "to move to the center" if Obama wants to achieve anything in his final two years in the White House.

"We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy," McConnell said in an interview with Politico while on his tour bus in western Kentucky. "That’s something he won’t like, but that will be done. I guarantee it."

McConnell said that the president would have to decide whether he’s willing to veto spending bills, including the budget, knowing that it could lead to a government shutdown.

Obama "needs to be challenged, and the best way to do that is through the funding process," McConnell said. "He would have to make a decision on a given bill, whether there’s more in it that he likes than dislikes."

However, with the GOP favored to have majorities in the House and Senate for the first time in a decade, McConnell will have to unite the two factions within the party – establishment members such as himself and the young guns seeking a more conservative stance.

Although McConnell is on the verge of realizing his dream of leading the Senate, there are two people standing in his way – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and his Kentucky Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Cruz appeared reluctant to support McConnell for the Senate leadership role when approached by Politico. "That will be a decision for the conference to make," Cruz said, taking several seconds to respond. "I’m hopeful come January we have a Republican majority."

Before he can consider becoming majority leader, McConnell must first win re-election  against Grimes, a 35-year-old upstart who has been backed by a string of negative ads aimed at the senator.

"I don’t want to sound like a whiner here, but if you get beat up all the time, it affects you," said McConnell, who also blamed negative media coverage in the state for his low approval ratings. "All people hear about is unpleasant things."

But if does win the election and become majority leader, McConnell said that unlike Democrat  Sen. Harry Reid, the current majority leader, he would make it easier for committee chairmen to bring legislation to the floor and let senators vote on amendments. This would result in members having to vote on politically toxic issues, McConnell told Politico.

To get things done in Congress, McConnell as majority leader would have to unite conservative such as Cruz and moderates such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, while also seeking Democratic support for major legislation, Politico said.

"Being leader is sort of like being the groundskeeper to a cemetery: Everybody is under you but nobody is listening," McConnell said.

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