McConnell Stands By Sequester Level in House GOP Meeting

Posted November 19, 2013 at 11:51am

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell paid a visit to the House Republican Conference’s weekly meeting Tuesday morning to reiterate his support for hanging tough on the $967 billion sequester spending level in negotiations with the Democrats.

The Kentucky Republican has long held the view that the $967 billion discretionary figure is the right position for the GOP, and he’s fought against deals that would increase revenue for additional spending.

Some GOP lawmakers, particularly defense hawks and appropriators, are eager for a deal that would allow more spending this year.

If Republicans and Democrats can’t reach an agreement, that could lead to a yearlong CR that under the sequester law would cut spending to $967 billion — even less than the $986 billion in the CR that ended the government shutdown — with defense absorbing the extra cuts.

A House GOP leadership aide said that while McConnell did not specifically say he supported a yearlong CR, he implied that he would.

A spokesman for McConnell did not address whether he said he supported a CR specifically.

“Sen. McConnell appreciates the efforts of Speaker Boehner and Rep. McMorris Rodgers, Chair of the House Republican Conference, to make time for his remarks today to the Conference,” a McConnell spokesman said in an emailed statement to CQ Roll Call. “He provided an update on the Senate and had a chance to hear directly from his House colleagues.”

At a news conference immediately following the closed-door meeting, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said he hopes that budget conferees can agree to a common topline number for appropriations bills well in advance of the conference’s Dec. 13 deadline to strike a deal — and avoid a CR.

“It’s important that we do appropriations bills here to fund the government,” Boehner told reporters. “The idea that we should operate under what are called continuing resolutions is a poor way to do business.

“So I understand the frustration of appropriators. They want regular order,” Boehner continued. “Until there’s an agreement out of the budget conference on a discretionary spending number for the year, they are unable to do their work. And frankly, that’s not fair. So I’m hopeful.”

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.