“This weekend, we offered the president a bipartisan proposal to avoid default so we could have the time we need to put together a serious plan for getting our house in order, and he rejected it out of hand,” McConnell said. “Time is running out. And with all due respect to the president, we have more important things to worry about than getting through the next election.”
Democratic aides and the White House dispute McConnell’s account of how the bipartisan plan fell apart. Reid did present the idea to Obama at the White House on Sunday night, but he, Pelosi and the president agreed that a six-month extension of the debt limit, which Boehner pushed, was a “nonstarter.”
Bipartisan Sunday talks between Boehner, McConnell and Reid centered on a potential two-step plan, but Senate Democrats insisted the Sunday offering from Boehner was different than the proposal the Speaker put forth Monday afternoon.
McConnell, who spent several minutes on the floor Monday in animated conversation with Reid, did not specifically address the Senate Democrat’s plan that was to be released minutes later.
When asked whether he believed he would have the votes to send his plan to the House, Reid said, “I would hope so. I’m giving them what they want.”
Reid also noted that he alerted McConnell to his proposal.
For now, at least, the House and Senate seem intent on pursuing dueling legislative tracks. When asked whether McConnell or his Conference could line up behind the Reid plan, a Senate Republican aide expressed doubts that it could pass the House, even though some of its most contested provisions — such as the $1 trillion in war accounting to boost the total savings in the plan, also appeared in the calculations of the House GOP-approved budget.
“The Reid approach cannot probably pass the House, therefore it’s a nonstarter,” the aide said. “Senate Democrats berated House GOP for passing [Cut, Cap and Balance] and laughed at it, saying it was nonstarter for them. Now, they’re demanding a bill pass through Senate that almost surely cannot make it through the House.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.