WASHINGTON –If the battle lines of the next budget fight between the White House and Congress were not already clear, Mitch McConnell underscored them in emphatic terms Sunday.
With three fiscal deadlines in the coming months, the Republican Senate minority leader made it clear in interviews on the Sunday morning talk shows that the GOP will not consider further tax increases to help reduce the nation’s debt.
“The tax issue is finished, over, completed,” McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s behind us. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that’s our spending addiction. It’s time to confront it. The president surely knows that.”
McConnell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he was open to tax reform, “but now that we have resolved the revenue issue, tax reform ought to be revenue-neutral.”
The entrenched position of Republican lawmakers – eager to distance themselves from last week’s short-term resolution, which raised taxes on the rich – sets up yet another bitter clash with the White House.
While President Barack Obama has said he supports spending cuts, he has vigorously pushed back against the GOP demand for specific cuts in exchange for raising the nation’s debt limit to pay its outstanding bills.
“One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up,” Obama said in his weekly radio address Saturday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., echoed that Sunday. “I don’t think these two things should be related,” she said on CBS. “Right now, we have to pay the bills that have been incurred. And if you want to say cut spending for what we do next, fine, but don’t tie it to the debt ceiling.”
But Republican lawmakers said Sunday they would not back down.
“I want to raise the debt ceiling, but I will not do it without a plan to get out of debt,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If you raise the debt ceiling by a dollar, you should cut spending by a dollar. That is the way to go forward.”
McConnell indicated Sunday that the fiscal fights would dominate Capitol Hill in the coming months, delaying any gun control legislation that might be proposed.
“Clearly we will not be addressing that issue early, because spending and debt are going to dominate the first three months,” he said on CBS.
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