McConnell: GOP standing firm against using ‘taxes to turn off the sequester’

The Senate's top Republican said his party is still open to reconfiguring billions in automatic spending cuts but without raising taxes. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday that he is interested in continuing talks with President Obama about finding different spending cuts than the ones included in the $85 billion sequester that went into effect on Friday. 

But he said Republicans are standing firm against raising "a dime in taxes to turn off the sequester" and that the "modest" cuts agreed to in August 2011 must go forward without including tax increases to help offset them, in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union." 

McConnell said that by calling for the tax hikes to replace cuts, President Obama and congressional Democrats are "walking away" from their agreement and failing to tackle the nation’s real fiscal problems.

"We have a spending addiction in Washington," he said. 

Congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House on Friday but left still divided on how to replace the across-the-board cuts. 

Democrats want to include some tax hikes on wealthier taxpayers while McConnell and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) remain vehemently opposed to the idea and say all cuts must be replaced by other reductions in spending.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said the sequester could cost 750,000 jobs and cut into economic growth by about 0.6 percent. 

McConnell, though, was upbeat about lawmakers being able to avert a government shutdown and pass a bipartisan measure that would fund the government for the final six months of the fiscal year.