McConnell Brags About His Bipartisan Street Cred

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:50am

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell usually isn’t one to highlight his closeness to the Obama administration.

In fact, the Kentucky Republican has at times seemed to take pains to distance himself from the handful of major deals that have made it to the president’s desk.

So color us surprised when we saw McConnell crowing to NPR about his bipartisan accomplishments.

Responding to a constituent who criticized him for having a partisan agenda, McConnell said: “There have been three major deals with the Obama administration — I brokered every one of them.”

But he went even further: “In fact, I’m perfectly willing to deal with the administration when I think we have the possibility of getting an outcome that’s in the best interests of the country,” he says. “And, as I said, the three major deals between Republicans and the administration, I have negotiated with the vice president. I rest my case.”

McConnell does deserve a good deal of the credit for bringing home deals on the debt limit in 2011, the payroll tax, and the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012.

Arguably, McConnell also can take satisfaction from the fact that the fiscal cliff deal put the Republicans on sounder footing regarding the sequester, given he brokered an agreement that prevented taxes from going up on all Americans while leaving spending cuts that Republicans largely support in place.

Still, it’s a curious position for McConnell to take given he is still in danger of drawing a primary challenge in his 2014 race. As NPR reporter Ailsa Chang points out in the piece, “it’s that willingness to deal that has a lot of Tea Partiers in Kentucky downright mad.”