Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday foreshadowed the coming clash over the debt ceiling, making clear in a handful of television interviews that Republicans would demand significant spending cuts and oppose any tax increases as the price for their support to raise the federal borrowing limit.
“The tax issue is finished. Over. Completed,” Kentucky’s senior senator said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s behind us.”
In appearances on three different network public affairs television programs, McConnell suggested that President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders were intent on negotiating in good faith with Senate Republicans and the GOP House majority, saying that they “seem to like” the frantic nature of last-minute deals negotiated on the cusp of a legislative or other government deadline.
“It’s a shame we have to drag him to the table,” McConnell said of Obama, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Democrats countered that it’s the Republicans who have been intransigent, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said they expected additional tax increases to be on the table in negotiations over the debt ceiling beyond those included in the bipartisan agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff.
“The president had said originally he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue, he took it down to 1.2 as a compromise in this legislation,” Pelosi said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We get $620 billion dollars, very significant, high-end tax, changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent, but that is not enough on the revenue side.”
Meanwhile, McConnell and other top Republicans signaled that they are considering a move to block Obama’s expected nomination of Chuck Hagel to serve as his next secretary of defense.
On CNN, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Hagel, a Republican and former Nebraska senator, “out of the mainstream” on foreign policy, “controversial” and an “antagonistic figure.”
Graham, a leading GOP voice on foreign policy and national defense, said Hagel would be “an in-your-face” nomination by the president. However, South Carolina’s senior senator and other Republicans were reluctant to specifically threaten to filibuster his nomination.
“The hearings will matter. He can set some of this straight,” Graham said.
McConnell said he, too, would be closely monitoring the confirmation hearings.
“I’m going to wait and see how the hearings go,” he said.
Durbin said on CNN that Hagel would be a “serious” nominee and Obama would be wise to nominate him.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.