McConnell: Biggest challenge this fall is funding the government

McConnell: Biggest challenge this fall is funding the government
© Francis Rivera

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate names part of Cures bill after Beau Biden Overnight Tech: The FCC and Cybersecurity | Spectrum auction fails again | Google's search for a conservative Cures bill clears first Senate hurdle MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday said the biggest challenge facing Congress this month is funding the federal government.

On Kentucky’s WYMT-TV, McConnell was asked in a wide-ranging interview what he thinks the biggest challenge will be when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next week after their annual August recess.

“Funding the federal government,” McConnell said.

Congress will have only about 12 days in session before the Oct. 1. funding deadline.

He then blamed Senate Democrats for putting Congress in this funding bind, because they rejected the idea of sticking to sequestration budget ceilings for the next fiscal year. Democrats want to increase spending for both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

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“They prevented us from doing anything with any of the bills that appropriate the government, thereby forcing a negotiation when we go back in after Labor Day, which I’ll be engaged in with the administration and others to try to sort out how much we’re going to spend and where we’re going to spend it.”

McConnell predicted Congress will engage in a “grand negotiation” this fall over spending.

While many conservatives before and during the congressional recess have called for defunding Planned Parenthood, McConnell suggested GOP leaders can’t pursue that until voters elect a GOP president.

“The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood,” he said.

“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” he added. “Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. But yeah we voted on that already in the Senate, we’ll vote on it again, but I would remind all of your viewers the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it."

McConnell has repeatedly promised that he would not allow a government shutdown on his watch or a default on the nation’s debt.