Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to vote against the
budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a source close to McConnell told Business Insider.
McConnell’s opposition comes to the higher discretionary spending levels set in the deal, which goes against his long-held position that the spending levels under sequestration are the right position for Republicans.
McConnell is up for re-election next year, and he faces a primary challenge from Tea Party favourite Matt Bevin.
The mini-bargain — the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013” — sets discretionary spending levels a little above $US1 trillion for the next two years, while repealing and replacing some cuts of sequestration. In fiscal year 2014, spending is set at $US1.012 trillion, which sits about halfway between the proposed levels of the House and Senate budgets. Current law under sequestration calls for caps of $US967 billion.
In a mid-November closed-door meeting with House Republicans, McConnell urged them to hold the line against lifting the sequester-level spending caps. Many other Republicans have argued that while imperfect, sequestration has provided the only effective check of the Obama administration’s spending.
“I remain convinced the Budget Control Act has done what it was supposed to do,” McConnell said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We’ve reduced government spending for two years in a row for the first time since right after the Korean War. … It has been a success, and I hope we don’t revisit it.”
Earlier on Wednesday, House GOP leaders defended the Ryan-led deal. House Speaker John Boehner displayed an uncanny flash of anger toward conservative groups that have come out in opposition to the higher spending levels set forth in the agreement.
“They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” Boehner said at a press conference. “This is ridiculous. If you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican to come out against the agreement, but he’s far from the only one. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) all oppose the deal, along with a number of House conservatives. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has also expressed scepticism toward the deal, and the Club for Growth included him in their statement of senators they “stood with” against the deal.
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