“There was no earmark,” McConnell told WVLK radio in Lexington, Ky., Thursday morning.
The Army Corps of Engineers asked for the funding, he said, and so did the White House.
The deal, passed by Congress late Wednesday and signed by President Obama just after midnight Thursday, included a $2.9 billion for a system of locks under construction at the Olmsted Dam. It’s situated where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers meet near McConnell’s home state.
McConnell’s office told The Hill on Wednesday night that the senator wasn’t involved in the funding increase for the project in Kentucky.
“Every single member of the Senate had a chance to review it and none asked for it to be taken out,” he said in the radio interview.
The Senate Conservatives Fund labeled the provision the “Kentucky Kickback.”
The government reopened Thursday after being closed for 16 days as result of Republicans' demands for ObamaCare to first be defunded or its provisions delayed.
McConnell expressed regret for “spending several weeks on an impossible dream that many of us have."
“We’d love to see ObamaCare gone,” he said. “The only way to do that is to make me majority leader.” McConnell is currently running for reelection in 2014.
The conservative wing of the GOP said it's not giving up the fight to bring down the three-year-old healthcare law.
But for now, McConnell said, “It’s clear that Democrats are not gonna blink.”