News & Politics

GOP Senate Leader: We Had to Raise Spending Because Democrats Control the House

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters about the possibility of a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Trump administration and the Republican-led Senate had to raise domestic spending levels because Democrats have the majority in the House.

McConnell praised the budget agreement, which raises the debt ceiling through July 2021 and raises federal spending by about $320 billion over current levels. President Trump endorsed the deal in a tweet on Thursday. In FY2018, the deficit was $800 billion. The national debt is currently more than $22 trillion.

“We got the number we wanted on defense. There will be no Democratic riders, what we call poison pills, to pursue their left-wing agenda. All of those are walled off. And it will be a chaos-free government for a year and a half. In other words, no short-term CRs, no short-term debt ceilings. It will at least present to the American people what they would expect, which is that the government would operate in a normal fashion,” McConnell said in an interview Wednesday on Fox News.

“I think that’s worth a lot, and we knew we’d have to give, with this Democratic House, more spending on the domestic side. We knew that going in. I think Secretary Mnuchin did a wonderful job, a spectacular job, in fact, negotiating this with Speaker Pelosi,” he added.

In 2013, Republicans were pushing President Barack Obama to reduce federal spending when the GOP only had the majority in the House. At the time, Trump endorsed using the debt ceiling as a “very powerful weapon” to reach a strong budget deal.

“I think they should play the debt ceiling card — that’s a very powerful card, absolutely — that’s the thing that bothers me about the Republicans. They have so much power, they have so much negotiating — and they don’t see to be doing it, it amazes me,” Trump said during a news conference at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February 2013.