McConnell pushes back on 'Kentucky kickback'
October 17th, 2013
11:13 AM ET
6 months ago

McConnell pushes back on 'Kentucky kickback'

(CNN) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denied slipping a special provision into a deal he co-engineered to end the 16-day government shutdown and end a showdown over raising the nation's debt ceiling.

And the longtime Republican Senator from Kentucky had an admonishment for Republicans whose sole focus is the "impossible dream" of ending Obamacare.

Conservative groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has promised to work to unseat lawmakers it doesn't feel are conservative enough, criticized McConnell for working with Democrats to end the shutdown. Senate Conservatives Fund said Wednesday night that the provision in the spending bill that benefits Kentucky was a special bit of pork placed there by McConnell, although the Senator and Democrats denied the claim.

"There was no earmark," McConnell told Lexington, Kentucky radio host Lee Cruse on WVLK radio Thursday morning. McConnell argued the Army Corps of Engineers asked for the money and the White House did too.

The spending bill added more than $2 billion for a system of locks under construction at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and between his home state and Illinois.

McConnell has been a chief backer of the project in past years and has requested earmarks for it in the past.

"Every single member of the Senate had an opportunity to review it and none asked for it to be taken out," McConnell said. He didn't point out that text of the legislation wasn't publicly released until just a few hours before the Senate vote.

Democrats and the White House have backed him up, saying the project needed to be funded or go dormant.

McConnell argued that the provision actually saves money by keeping the project from being shut down. It's pretty rare, McConnell argued, to save money in a spending bill.

McConnell is up for re-election next year and faces a tea party primary challenge as well as a strong Democratic opponent. As of Thursday morning, Matt Bevin, the primary challenger, had not reacted, one way or another, to the $2 billion for the system of locks.

Ending Obamacare is "Impossible Dream"

McConnell said it was regretful that the House couldn't  pass any legislation in the last week, which put Capitol Hill in a "box canyon," and "spending several weeks on an impossible dream that many of us have."

But the only way to do that is "making me majority leader," said McConnell, added the five term senator.

"It's clear that Democrats are not gonna blink" on Obamacare, he said, although he promised to keep up the fight against the health law.

"It's a disaster," he argued, pointing to the glitches in the healthcare.gov website.

McConnell to the Rescue

"I'm one of the biggest opponents of the Obama administration, but when the country is on the brink, I've stepped in on four occasions now" and brought the country back, added McConnell.

The other three instances where McConnell brokered deals with Democrats include fights in previous fights over the debt ceiling and also his role in helping bring the country back from the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts late in 2012. The spending cuts ultimately did kick in earlier this year.

To conservatives frustrated at his deal-making, McConnell said he can understand their frustration.

"I'm sympathetic. It wasn't a very good deal. But it wasn't a very good deal," he admitted. But that was because, McConnell argued, he didn't have much time to make the deal after House Republicans failed to pass their own plan.

"No action, when you're in a government shutdown and facing default, no action is not an option," he said.


Filed under: 2014 • Government Shutdown • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Searcher

    The TEA-GOP is off LICKING their SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS. Maybe they need Obamacare to cure the damage they took?

    October 17, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Darlene

    He is a liar and he wanted just as bad to stop the ACA as much as the TeaParty nuts. I live in Kentucky and that's all he has talked about since the president was elected. Your days are numbered!

    October 17, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Jules

    There's only one thing worse than listening to Harry Reid speak and that is listening to Mitch MConnell speak.

    October 17, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. c-lo

    Funny, where is the quote from Nancy Pill-osi voicing her distaste for this agreement, when in fact it is exactly what she and her ilk were pushing for. Maybe she needed to pass it to see what was in it.

    October 17, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Hal

    If I am following all this nonsense correctly, we had a government shutdown for 2 weeks, a negotiated agreement that basically says we will have the same stupidity in a few months, pork in a bill, and a phony default threat that would never materialize.

    October 17, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    @ Darlene. I know he is lying too. This man is such a hypocrit. He has been after President Obama since he was elected. I guess now he has forgotten (really hoping that the voters have forgotten) about the back room meeting the night of the 2008 election when he and his conies promised to make President Obama a one term president. Now he wants to act all innocent. These Republicans are on a trip without a suitcase.

    October 17, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    The Republicans love pork for their states, but any other state they like to deny them. The Lobbyist must really pay them big time, but remember it is all hush-hush.

    October 17, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Pander Bear

    Go Tea Party Go! Make sure you bring up Turtle's kickback during the primary, run a rabid, racist conservative candidate, win the GOP nomination, and turn Kentucky Blue!

    October 17, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    c-lo

    Funny, where is the quote from Nancy Pill-osi voicing her distaste for this agreement, when in fact it is exactly what she and her ilk were pushing for. Maybe she needed to pass it to see what was in it.
    --------------------
    LOL. I haven't heard of it. But, would you have preferred that she gloated, "I got 98% of what I wanted."

    October 17, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Durundal

    I would just like to point out how we tried to oust the 'career politicians' and ideologues and what did we get in return? A bunch of know-nothing tea party lunatics that almost crashed the nations economy because they had no idea how the world works outside of oversimplified anecdotes and soundbites. Hows that workin out for us?

    October 17, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. robertoctv

    We need to get all the self interest money out of our political processes and limit congressional office to only two terms: nothing will change for the average American until we do that.

    October 17, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. c-lo

    Rudy NYC

    c-lo

    Funny, where is the quote from Nancy Pill-osi voicing her distaste for this agreement, when in fact it is exactly what she and her ilk were pushing for. Maybe she needed to pass it to see what was in it.
    ------–
    LOL. I haven't heard of it. But, would you have preferred that she gloated, "I got 98% of what I wanted."
    ---------
    it would at least been more honest!

    October 17, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. c-lo

    Durundal

    I would just like to point out how we tried to oust the 'career politicians' and ideologues and what did we get in return? A bunch of know-nothing tea party lunatics that almost crashed the nations economy because they had no idea how the world works outside of oversimplified anecdotes and soundbites. Hows that workin out for us?
    ___________________________
    A mirror image of the same idiocrity we saw in the 2008 elections.

    October 17, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    Hope some one kick this national thug away with Ted Cruz, Eric Cantor, Ryan too.

    October 17, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. sammy750

    McConnell cannot admit he got $2 M in earmarks from the bills passed last night. He is suppose to be against them. Republicans always deny and LIE to the voters

    October 17, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. sammy750

    McConnell was one of the largest users of earmarks. The state ran on the earmarks that McConnell used to use. But the Tea Party is against them, so McConnell had to stop earmarks. But he did get $2M for campaign fund last night in the bill

    October 17, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. OnePartyRule

    Why can't we just do away with checks and balances now? We have the power, lets just outlaw the Republican party. It works just fine in other banana republics.

    October 17, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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