McConnell ‘pulling’ for McCarthy to become Speaker, despite disagreements
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that he’s “pulling” for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to be elected Speaker, even though he and McCarthy have split over key issues such as passing an omnibus spending package before year’s end.
McConnell told reporters “absolutely, I’m pulling for Kevin,” when asked if he supported McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker after McCarthy criticized Senate Republicans for negotiating a year-end spending package.
McCarthy, who’s scrambling to line up the 218 votes needed to be elected Speaker when the new House GOP majority convenes in January, has criticized Senate Republican leaders for not passing a stopgap spending measure that would punt the annual appropriations bills into 2023.
He told Fox News’s Sean Hannity in an interview last week that he hoped Senate Republicans wouldn’t support any omnibus bill brought to the floor by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“They’re trying to jam us right before Christmas. Why would you ever move forward when there’s a change in power in 21 days where Republicans would have a stronger hand? We wouldn’t be talking about adding more money, we’d be talking about decreasing,” McCarthy said.
McConnell, however, has touted the omnibus bill as a major victory for Republicans because it includes bigger funding increases for defense than nondefense programs, rebuffing Democrats’ demand that defense and nondefense accounts receive equal treatment.
“This omnibus bill that will be on the floor provides a real-dollar increase for the defense baseline and a real-dollar cut for the nondefense baseline, if you exclude veterans,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
“That is absolutely critical in breaking the pattern we’ve had in the past when we’ve ended up in one of these situations where every time Republicans tried to get an increase in defense, we would in effect have to pay a ransom to the Democrats on the domestic side,” McConnell added.
McCarthy has yet to lock down the votes he needs to become Speaker because at least five House GOP conservatives are refusing to support his bid and demanding he agree to rules reforms that would give them more leverage in the next Congress.
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