Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Sunday that he would seek to attach conditions to another debt ceiling increase requested by Democrats, calling it “irresponsible” and “unreasonable” to do otherwise.
McConnell spoke with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” about the Kentucky Republican’s plans for this year’s legislative session, zeroing in on the inevitable debt ceiling fight scheduled for the end of February. Democrats are pushing for a “clean” debt ceiling increase, allowing the federal government to further expand the ballooning debt with no strings attached.
But most Republicans are opposed to another debt ceiling raise altogether, and to convince them otherwise will likely require some sort of concession from President Obama. On Sunday, however, White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer declared the president would accept nothing less than a “clean” bill.
McConnell noted that many important legislative initiatives — including provisions that balanced the federal budget in the 1990s and instituted the sequester in 2011 — were attached to debt ceiling increases. “I think for the president to ask for a ‘clean’ debt ceiling when we have a debt the size of our economy is irresponsible,” he claimed. “So we ought to discuss adding something to his request to raise the debt ceiling that does something about the debt or it produces, at least, something positive for our country.”
Wallace wondered if — given the president’s relative political success with the debt ceiling — it was wise for congressional Republicans to pick a fight on this particular issue. “What we want to do is try to accomplish something for the country,” McConnell responded. “And I think any president’s request to raise the debt ceiling — whether this one or a previous president — is a good opportunity to do something about the debt.”
“And I think the president is taking an unreasonable position,” he continued, “to suggest that we ought to treat his request to raise the debt ceiling like some kind of motherhood resolution, that everybody just says ‘Aye’ and we don’t do anything when we have this stagnant economy and this massive debt created under his administration… What I’m saying is we ought to attach something significant to the country for his request to increase the debt ceiling.”
What would something “significant” look like? McConnell floated two potential concessions, noting that President Obama could agree to either approve construction of the Keystone Pipeline or rule out a bailout of health insurance companies struggling under Obamacare.
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