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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell updates on the Iraq resolutions to come next week.

Friday, February 2, 2007

HH: Joined now by the leader of the Republicans in the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell. Senator McConnell, welcome. Good to talk to you. You just heard Hillary Clinton say she doesn’t have the 60 votes. Is she right?

MM: Yeah, she’s certainly right. Until Monday, the Democrats have been denying us an unfair process. And until they agree to a fair process, there’ll be 49 unified Republican saying no to cloture on a measure that Harry Reid is trying to bring up. So he’ll have to negotiate with us, and when he does, there’ll be more than one option, and we’ll have several different votes that will be interesting for you to observe.

HH: Senator McConnell, obviously, they would like the Levin-Warner resolution to have a straight up or down vote. So I want to understand. The Republicans will not vote for cloture, correct?

MM: That’s correct. And you know, in the Senate, I don’t know why anyone would be whining about a 60 vote requirement in the Senate. That’s the way it’s been for many decades, and certainly a matter of this importance will be dealt with in a 60 vote context, like virtually every other important matter in the United States Senate.

HH: Now Senator McConnell, John McCain, working with Joe Lieberman and John Cornyn and others have drafted a resolution. How many of the 49 Republicans do you think are going to support McCain-Lieberman-Cornyn?

MM: Well, we’ll find out next week. I’m not going to make a prediction about the outcome, but we are optimistic that it will get a healthy vote for that, and we’re optimistic, more importantly, that the Warner proposal, which the Democrats now support, that will not get 60.

HH: Do you expect some Republicans to support the Warner proposal?

MM: I think that will be the case. How many is not clear yet, but our effort is to try and prevent the Warner proposal, which has now been adopted by the Democratic majority leader, to get 60 votes.

HH: Are you aware of the NRSC pledge, Senator McConnell, in which 30,000 people have said they’re not going to support the NRSC if Republicans voting for Warner, who are up for reelection, being supported by the NRSC?

MM: Well, I’m sorry that people feel that way. You know, we have to try to keep a Republican majority. We can’t get a 100% loyalty on every issue, and we are going to support the nominees of our party, because if we can get a majority, then we have the committee chairmen. It prevents a lot of problems that we are likely to have, as this Congress is a result of not having the committee chairmen. I can understand people’s frustrations, but we do support Republican candidates who are incumbent United States Senators.

HH: And that’s not going to change under any circumstances, no matter how they vote?

MM: It’s never been otherwise in my memory, and some of our members from different parts of the country are quite different, philosophically, from others.

HH: We have about 45 seconds, Senator McConnell, and I’d love to keep you. I know you’re rushing from appointment to appointment, though. Have you seen movement in the Republican caucus this week towards supporting victory in Iraq, which wasn’t there two weeks ago?

MM: I think we’ve made some incremental progress. It’s not as much as I had hoped. We’ll probably still have this debate next week, and we’ll know how this first skirmish with the opponents of the war are going to come out. Let me just end by saying, Hugh, that our goal ought to be to win. And the way to win is to have a stable government and a relatively quiet Baghdad, and that’s what the President’s trying to achive, and we ought to support him.

HH: I agree with you, Senator McConnell. I wish you can get your colleagues to do so, because it’s going to be tough supporting the NRSC if they don’t.

End of interview.

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