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Senate Republican Mitch McConnell on what happens in the Senate when you don’t keep a deal.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

HH: And by objecting, the reading continues at this hour. Joined now by the Republican leader in the United States Senate, of Kentucky, Mitch McConnell. Senator McConnell, well done today. I’m sure the Democrats aren’t sending you any drinks, though.

MM: (laughing) Well, you know, they promised to do three circuit judges before the Memorial Day recess. They did one. And there have to be consequences. Breaking your word in the Senate is not acceptable. As you just had your listeners tune in, I objected to dispensing of the reading of a massive substitute for this so-called climate change bill that’s been on the floor today, and so the clerks have been reading it for the last six hours.

HH: (laughing) You know, that’s…is that like waterboarding Senators?

MM: I hope so. I hope so. You know, look. You can’t run over the minority in the Senate unless it’s a tiny minority, and we’re not a tiny minority. We’re 49. They’re 51. They have not kept the commitment Senator Reid made to me at the beginning of this Congress that we would do the average number of circuit court appointments that had been achieved at the end of each of the last three presidencies. All those presidents, Reagan, Bush and Clinton, ended up with a Senate in the hands of the opposition party, so that you had a directly analogous situation to this one. The average number of circuit judges confirmed was 17. Clinton was the low of that, 15. We’ve done eight, and they’re not keeping their word, and there’ll have to be consequences.

HH: Do you intend to keep the Senate bollixed up until they come through with the appellate court judges you…

MM: Well, I’m not going to telegraph every move, but I can tell you there’ll be minimal cooperation except when we choose to until this commitment is kept.

HH: And have you had any entreaties today from Senator Reid indicating he’s willing to keep his word?

MM: Well, not yet, not yet, but we’re just getting started.

HH: All right, now let me ask you, Senator, since we’ve got you on climate change, do you have enough votes to filibuster this?

MM: Well, we’d certainly like to stop it. However, we’d like to have amendments. We…once we get back on this bill, what we think they’re going to do is another parliamentary trick that basically disallows amendments. If they do that, of course, we will prevent the bill from going to final passage. But we think this is a bill that deserves to be amended. I mean, this is an enormous reorganization of our economy. It would be the greatest, if it passed, since the New Deal in the 1930s. It’s a $6.7 trillion dollar tax increase. It’s going to send up the price of gas. Can you imagine the stupidity of bringing up a bill like this right now? It’s going to send the price of gas up $.53 cents a gallon by 2030, increase electricity prices 44% by 2030. Just looking at my state alone, we’re talking about losing 55,000 jobs. And the tax increase, the cost going up on Kentuckians about $6,000 dollars a year. I mean, this is a massive, this is sort of Hillarycare for the climate.

HH: Only, I think its complexity level is exponentially greater than Hillarycare was in 1993-94. I’ve been trying to study this. I do not know how bureaucracies can execute this, Senator McConnell. Is that becoming obvious to your colleagues on both sides of the aisle?

MM: Well, I think there is tremendous nervousness among at least some Democrats. I think they realize that this is a foolish place for them to be placed at a time of high gas prices and a slow economy. You know, what this is really, I’m sure you’ve pointed this out to your listeners, but basically the Democratic majority wants to turn America into France, a country where over 50% of the gross domestic product is government spending. Western Europe has cap and trade already. They’ve had it for three years. There’s no indication it’s had any impact on the climate change issue. And by the way, and let’s concede the point for the sake of discussion that climate change is a problem. If it is, the way to tackle it is with American innovation and technology, and then sell the technology to the Indians and the Chinese who I assure you are not going to pass anything like this for their economies. This is just going to create a massive exportation of jobs to countries like India and China who are not going to be foolish enough to put the clamps on their own economies.

HH: Well Senator McConnell, as one Republican, thanks for playing hardball with them. I hope you get Peter Keisler as one of those three judges. But any way it goes, thanks for at least standing up for the GOP side in a bargain. It’s been long overdue, and I’m sure this audience appreciates, as do the people of Kentucky. Mitch McConnell from the great Bluegrass State.

End of interview.

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