McConnell: Pelosi dealing with her own liberal 'Freedom Caucus'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster Hickenlooper announces Senate bid Trump orders elimination of student loan debt for thousands of disabled veterans MORE (R-Ky.) said the failure of House Democrats to pass a budget shows that Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCutting tariffs is better than cutting payroll taxes to boost the economy Pelosi speaks with Israeli president after Trump controversy In debate over internet speech law, pay attention to whose voices are ignored MORE (D-Calif.) is dealing with a liberal version of the conservative House Freedom Caucus that plagued Republican leaders in past years. 

McConnell urged her to work with Republicans on areas of common ground so that her hands won’t be tied by future liberal revolts. 

Pelosi was forced to cancel a vote on a House Democratic budget this week after a civil war broke out between liberals and moderates in her caucus. 


Members of the Progressive Caucus threatened to vote against the bill unless Democratic House leaders added more money for domestic programs. The Democratic division sunk the bill because Republicans were expected to vote against it along party lines. 

“You watched the Democrats wrestle in the House with [a] one-party-only spending proposal this week. Congratulations Madam Speaker, you’ve got a Freedom Caucus,” McConnell told reporters during a pen-and-pad briefing Thursday.

McConnell argued it’s another sign that he and Pelosi need to get together to negotiate spending caps for the rest of the 116th Congress, something he spoke about to reporters on Tuesday.

“I talked to the Speaker and the president about entering into discussions to determine how much we’re going to spend this year and next year. We have to get used to talking to each other. We have divided government. The American people seem to like divided government. We’ve had it more often than not since World War II,” he said. 

McConnell said Democrats and Republicans won’t pass any spending bills this year unless they come to agreement on top-line budget numbers.

“The only way we can, in a divided government, get a rational spending-cap bill is in the political center. Her most liberal members probably won’t vote for it. Many of my most conservative members won’t vote for it, but we have to do it because the country will suffer,” he said. 

He said if he and Pelosi fail to reach a budge deal, then Congress will likely have to pass a stopgap spending measure at the end of the year, which freezes funding levels and disallows programmatic changes, or automatic spending cuts known as sequestration will go into effect in January. 

He noted that he worked with Democratic leaders to avoid fiscal crises under President Obama, such as in the summer of 2011, when he helped negotiate a plan to raise the federal debt limit, and the end of 2012, when he and then-Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor Poll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona Giuliani says he discussed Biden with Ukrainian official MORE struck a deal to extend most of the Bush-era tax cuts. 

“I had a lot of experience doing that during the Obama years, usually with Vice President Biden. It typically ruffles feathers among some on your own side but this is sort of the basic work of government that has to be done,” he said.