Facing widespread criticism for saying that Republicans’ top priority is to remove President Obama from the White House, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reaffirmed that if the party wants to implement its agenda, Obama must change course or exit the picture completely.
“If our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending, and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things it is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things,” McConnell said in a speech Thursday at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “We can hope the president will start listening to the electorate after Tuesday’s election. But we can’t plan on it.”
McConnell doubled down on his call for repealing the health-care law, which he said will not happen unless Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. He said Republicans will move to repeal it “repeatedly,” even when it is clear that Obama will veto it. In addition to a straight repeal, Republicans plan to chip away at the law piece by piece, he said.
“We can’t expect the president to sign it,” McConnell said of a bill that would repeal the law. “So we’ll also have to work, in the House, on denying funds for implementation, and, in the Senate, on votes against its most egregious provisions.”
The party already made one failed attempt to repeal a provision in the health-care law that imposes heavy new tax regulations on American businesses. McConnell and other Republican leaders have made clear that they plan to introduce similar bills over the next two years.
Echoing remarks from House Speaker-to-be John Boehner and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, McConnell said that the party has no plans to compromise with the White House if it requires them to abandon commitments to lower taxes and smaller government.
“If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction,” he said. “Governments have limits, thank heavens. Voters want us to respect them.”
A sign that the White House is open to discussing areas of agreement between the parties, Obama has invited Republican leaders to the White House for a dinner on Nov. 18.