One day after the Senate rejected Republicans’ budget-cutting proposal and its Democratic alternative, with 44 and 42 yea votes, respectively, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he’s convinced that in this case, two wrongs make a right—a figurative right, that is.
“It’s noteworthy that the House Republican spending reduction proposal did better in the Democratic Senate that the Democratic alternative—it tells you there’s a bipartisan desire to go down this path,” McConnell said Thursday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Ten Democrats voted against their party’s version of the bill, which would cut less than $5 billion from current spending; three Republicans wanting deeper cuts than the GOP-proposed $57 billion voted against both bills.
“Divided government is actually the only time you can do really tough stuff,” McConnell continued.
But while he said he’s thankful for the negotiating benefits that come with a split Congress, compromise between the legislative and executive branches is lacking.
Referencing a Washington Post column by Ruth Marcus last week in which she criticized President Obama for sitting on the sidelines, McConnell said that in order to move beyond domestic discretionary spending and dig into areas like defense budget cuts, “we need to do it with the leadership and involvement of the president of the United States.”
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, isn’t optimistic, even about bipartisan cooperation on the Hill. Appearing on Fox News, he said Thursday that on the budget, both parties “will come together—but they will fight and squirm. I don’t think anybody is anxious to close down the government, but they won’t have a resolution to the problem.”
McConnell offered advice: “Let me tell you what we need to do,” he said. “We need to come together like [President] Reagan and [Democratic House Speaker] Tip O’Neill when they fixed Social Security in ’83 and when they did tax reform in ’86. And like Bill Clinton and Republicans in ’96—Bill Clinton and Republicans actually balanced the budget. Anybody remember that? The opportunity is here and it is now.”