By Alexander Bolton - 05/07/13 07:25 PM EDT
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Republicans will not vote to increase the nation’s debt limit this summer if it is not attached to legislation to reduce the federal deficit.
McConnell said he is in discussions with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other House leaders about the possibility of adding tax reform or a deficit-reduction plan to the debt limit.
“We are communicating obviously with House Republicans about the issue. A number of my colleagues have met with not only the president in a series of dinners but the president’s chief of staff in some meetings discussing the way forward,” he said.
McConnell said it is appropriate to add major fiscal legislation to the debt-limit increase, noting it was done in 2011, when Congress passed the budget control act, which enacted $917 billion in spending cuts and scheduled a budget sequester to take effect in 2013.
“I like to remind the administration that the issue of the debt ceiling more often than not has been accomplished by very significant legislation going back to the 50s,” he said.
McConnell says it is time for discussions between President Obama and Republican lawmakers to “get going.”
“It can’t be done without the president of the United States. He’s the only person who can sign something into law and deliver the members of his party to vote for a deal that he makes,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday criticized Republicans for blocking an effort to advance the Senate-passed budget to negotiations with the House.
“It’s been 45 days since we passed a budget resolution and Republicans are blocking us in taking the next step in the regular order,” he said. “The next step is to sit down and try and work out our differences.
“We’ve known for years that the Tea Party has full control of the House, but now we understand they have full control of the Republican caucus here in the Senate,” Reid said.
Reid noted the most outspoken Republican on the issue of moving to a budget conference has been Sen. Ted Cruz (R), whom he called the “very junior senator from Texas.”
McConnell justified Republican objections to proceeding to a conference meeting to reconcile the Senate and House budget resolutions. He said Republicans do not want to do anything to advance tax increases and the Senate Democratic budget would raise nearly $1 trillion in new taxes over the next decade.
“The main point here is we don’t feel that we ought to enable the Democrats to produce an outcome that raises the debt ceiling without doing anything about the debt or raises taxes,” he said.