McConnell Vows to Hold the Line Against Another Shutdown, Says It's 'Not Conservative Policy'
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday that he won't let another shutdown happen because it's not conservative policy.
"You know, one of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there's no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of the mule occurred back in 1995 when we were -- the Republican House shut down the government," McConnell said.
"Look, shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy," he added. "I don't think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy. A number of us were saying back in July that this strategy could not and would not work, and of course it didn't. So there will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that."
McConnell, who faces a Tea Party re-election challenge next year, said "it certainly didn't do the country any good to have, you know, both a government shutdown and a pending fiscal crisis right on top of it."
"But, look, we're a big, resilient country. You just pointed out how the stock market bounced back immediately. I was pleased to play a role in keeping us from going to the brink. I think it was important to do the right thing for the country. And we did it," he said.
The minority leader has been lauded by his colleagues on the other side of the aisle for coming together with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in the 11th hour and crafting a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen government.
McConnell laughed when asked whether he accepted a kickback for the deal in the form of $2 billion to fund a dam project in Kentucky.
"Well, as has been widely reported, it was a provision requested by the president and the Corps of Engineers and suggested by a senator from Tennessee and a senator from California that actually saves the taxpayers $160 million. Rarely, in a spending bill, do you have a provision that saves $160 million for the taxpayers," he said. "It was put in by Senator Alexander and Senator Feinstein, senators from Tennessee and California, because it saved $160 million for the taxpayers."
"...It's been a longstanding project. It doesn't just benefit Kentucky. It benefits the whole inland waterway system. It is extremely important to the commerce that flows down the central part of the United States, yes."
On the subject of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), McConnell agreed "that Obamacare is indeed a train wreck."
"One thing that all Republicans agreed on back in 2009 is that we thought Obamacare was a terrible mistake for the country. We still think that, and we're going to do everything we can in the future to try to repeal it. But that requires a Republican Senate and a different president," McConnell continued. "We have a math problem in the Senate in getting rid of Obamacare. It's that -- it's the following math problem, 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans. We only control a portion of the government, and so that limits our ability to get rid of this horrible law."
"Look, we've got a big conference with 45. I'd like to have 51. That would make me the majority leader instead of the minority leader. We have a lot of people with different points of view. We had some tactical differences about how to get at the repeal of Obamacare. But the fact that we have some tactical differences doesn't mean we don't all share the same goal. Obamacare is the worst piece of legislation that's been passed in the last half century, the single biggest step in the direction of Europeanizing our country. We need to get rid of it. And if the American people will give us a majority in the Senate and a new president, that's exactly what we're going to do."