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tv   Minority Leader Mc Connell Holds News Conference  CSPAN  December 17, 2021 11:40am-12:10pm EST

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eastern. after that, dr. francis collins talks about his tenure at the national institutes of health. that is live from the washington post at 2:15 p.m. eastern on c-span. you can watch everything on or on our free video app, c-span now. >> washington unfiltered. c-span in your pocket. download c-span now today. >> mitch mcconnell is traveling around his home state of kentucky to look at damage from last weekend's tornadoes. before leaving washington, d.c., he held a press conference. he also talked about passage of the 1.2 trillion dollar
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infrastructure package as a sign of a bipartisan agreement. >> merry christmas, everyone. it looks like it is getting close. i thought this would be a good time to sum up my view of the year. with regard to the tornadoes in kentucky, i got off the phone with the head of the red cross down there about what they are involved in which is to make sure everybody has a place to be. we think everybody is under a roof somewhere. i will be going down tomorrow and again on saturday to tour the sites and check with first
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responders and local officials to make sure they are getting everything they need from federal agencies. shifting to the year, i think the big story is inflation. one way to look at it is forty-year inflation rate is like a tax of $3500 compared to what things cost pre-pandemic. $3500 increase in the price of everything we depend on. that is directly attributable as larry summers warned and repeated over and over again. to the 1.9 so-called rescue
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package that flooded the country with money. we thought it was a mistake. remember where we were, we had three vaccines, we had come together on a bipartisan basis to spend an enormous amount of money to live up the national debt, a significant amount in the wake of a 100 year pandemic. as we turned the corner and came into the new year, we had three vaccines, highly effective, and the challenge then began to get the vaccinations in the arms, which has been more difficult than we thought, and begin to get back to normal. but our colleagues on the other side just seems like they couldn't stop, wanted to keep on spending. that was coupled with the disastrous withdrawal from afghanistan, which could only be described as incompetent. they thought it was a good idea to leave or not --
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whether you thought it was a good idea to leave or not, your incompetence. american and afghan allies left behind enemy allies -- enemy lines with basically no way out. the border has been in chaos all year long. i think the administration and all the american people understand who is in charge of border security, it is the federal government. a complete and total failure. we are also experiencing an increase in crime all across the country, which is extremely disturbing, and there are still people at the federal level picking arguments that law enforcement is the problem. all the polls
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indicate people don't want fewer police, they want more. even though those decisions are largely made at the local level, there are many people in the federal level in congress still feeling that the police are a big part of the problem. what could we do in the minority? number one, when the american people speak, and give us either a divided or close majority, like they did, i think what they are saying is, why don't you look for the things you can agree on and do those? i think the most conspicuous example of that success would be infrastructure. somewhat controversial on our side, but i
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think it produced two things. number one, it produced a win for the american people on a subject that 75% of americans thought was a good idea, to do something about the crumbling infrastructure, and i think they wanted to see if we could ever deal with an issue on a bipartisan basis. i also said to my own colleagues, even though the argument was not totally successful with them, that i thought it produced a political advantage. initially, the democrats wanted to put the whole thing together, both hard infrastructure and what they called soft infrastructure. i thought it was a good idea to separate out the part of the bill that enjoyed overwhelming support, the hard infrastructure, put another way, i said, let's pass the sugar and then see if they can swallow the spinach. the spinach was left behind and as we speak today, they are having a hard time swallowing the spinach. so i think it was a good idea for the
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country and a good idea for republicans to step up, demonstrating that we could do something on a bipartisan basis that was overwhelmingly approved by the american people. the other thing we tried to do was to avoid unnecessary chaos. don't shut the government down, don't default on the national debt or threaten to do that, those are always challenging issues, but we managed to deal with both of them in a relatively smooth way. frankly, politically, not to turn the attention away from a failing administration and failing democratic congress and putting it on us, we avoided both of those mistakes that could have been made. two other things done on a bipartisan basis that are worth mentioning, the ndaa, after a little shakiness, managed to get there. 61 years straight. and the china bill, which did clear the senate on a bipartisan basis. finally,
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before going to your questions, i noticed the emphasis on the other side seems to have changed from reckless tax and spending spree to the voting issue again. let me repeat for the umpteenth time, there is not a single state in america that has passed a law that is making it more difficult to vote based upon race. the voting rights act is still fully intact, it has been against the law since the 1960's and remains against the law today to discriminate against people based upon race. there are, however, things that states do engage in to ensure ballot security, things like voter id at the polls, that most americans think is a perfectly reasonable suggestion. the state of new york just in this recently completed election had
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votes on the ballot on same-day registration and no excuse absentee voting and liberal new york defeated both of them. so most americans understand that certain basic ballot security measures guarantee the integrity of their own vote and to prevent the temptation to cheat by others. so the notion -- there has been a lot of discussion around big lies the last year -- one of the big lies is that the state legislatures across america are duly at work trying to deny people the right to vote based upon race. finally, rattling swords about changing the structure of the senate, by changing the filibuster rule. i want to commend senator manchin for having some respect for the institution. i would remind all of you, president trump repeatedly suggested or insisted that i lead the charge to change the filibuster rule, i had a one-word answer, no. changing
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the structure of the senate in order to try to achieve a partisan advantage is a mistake for the senate and a mistake for the country. with that, i will be happy -- yeah. >> you had a long meeting -- >> i'm having a hard time hearing you with your mask on. >> you had a meeting today with senator manchin. do you feel like you had an impact on his view of the build back better plan with conversation with him and have you ever asked him -- >> senator manchin like to talk to you, he likes to talk to
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everybody. i enjoy our conversations. it would not surprise you to know that i have suggested for years it would be a great idea, representing a deep red state like west virginia, for him to come over to our side. i don't think as we what happened but he would be the best one to ask for that. we enjoy a corneal relationship and we appreciated that he seems to be one of the few to many centrists left in the democratic party. in the obama years, we had way more moderate democrats than we do today. they seem to have all gone hard left. joe has resisted that and i admire him for it. >> earlier, you said you are watching the work of the january 6 committee and you are interested in what they could find. what are you hoping to learn from what they figure out? sen. mcconnell:i read -- i read the reports every day and it will be interesting to see what they conclude. >> i know that you hope build
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back better never sees the light of day, but if it does and republicans take control of the house and senate next year, are there parts of the program that republicans believe will last forever, social programs, other parts of this bill that you would hope to reverse, and the second question, what is the first priority if you are able to take back -- >> you have asked me a lot of hypotheticals. job one is to not pass it at all. the true cost of the bill is not 1.7 joined others, it is $4.9 trillion. -- 1.7 trillion dollars, it is $4.9 trillion. the last thing the country need is that additional debt, particular given the aftermath of the so-called rescue package back in march and the inflationary results of that. to double down on a similar strategy is a mistake for the country. i think the
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single biggest christmas present that this congress could give to the american people, that this reckless spending spree is dead. >> what you think are the chances of republican stick in the senate next year? >> i think we are going to have a good environment. you saw, i think, two good examples of how the american people are feeling about the administration a month ago in virginia and new jersey. i think there were other factors in virginia, we had a great candidate, there were some local issues that were important. very difficult to explain the outcome in new jersey and any other way -- in any other way than it was a referendum on the biden administration. this was a state he carried 60 points. our candidate had not been able to raise enough money to put on
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much of a campaign. you recall the truck driver who spent 150 dollars and be the state senate president. people were really mad and went out and expressed themselves. it was a referendum on the standing of this administration. your question is, will it last? if you look at the nature of their problems, the open border, raging inflation, rising crime, i think the likelihood of their dilemma getting much better in a year is pretty slim. secondly, you know the history, there are only three times in american history where the party of the president has gained seats two years into a first term. 1902, teddy roosevelt, i'm not sure how that happened. 1934, fdr was extreme lee popular and they gained seats -- extremely popular and they gained seats. the other time was 2002 in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, the country came together, incumbents ended
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up with high approval ratings, and we picked up a seat and got the senate back. most times, the midcourse report card for a new administration is not good. it has not always flipped the control, but we are 50-50. we don't have to pick up a whole lot. to get back into the majority. the places that will
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be making this decision are georgia and with carolina, pennsylvania, new hampshire, ohio, missouri, nevada, arizona. we will be out there doing battle and i think we will have the wind at our back. >> one thing you have going into this midterm election that others have not is a former who is attacking you. i wonder, replace you, trying to get candidates on board with that dynamic, what you say to that dynamic as you head and with the wind at your back into those who would want to replace you? show >> good try. [laughter] >> democrats are having concern about the lasting of this expenditure held tax credit, part of the american rescue plan. [inaudible] >> i can tell you for sure, i think it goes until january 15 and i'm sure there will be a debate about the enhanced portion of it. there have been concerns about lack of work requirements, for example. i think it will be discussed. we
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will see what happens when it gets to the cliff that is built into the bill. you already had one. i will come back in a minute. >> mr. leader, we have seen covid case numbers spike in recent days. here in d.c., there are 500 cases yesterday, tripling the case rate a month ago. if we continue to see this sort of rise, there is speculation that congress may need to step in with more aid in the public health realm, perhaps the economic realm. what is the appetite on your side for delivering additional covid aid should it be necessary? >> let me tell you what i can
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tell you for sure. every state is awash in money. they have never seen this much. big states, little states, they are awash in money based upon what was done earlier this year. obviously, we will try to meet the needs if they are there and you cannot find money to address them. so have bad that gets, how compelling a case there is for additional funding above what we have already done already remains to be seen. >> can you commit now that if you are majority leader in 2023 and there is a supreme court vacancy, that he would give that person a vote? >> i'm not going to start talking about what might happen if i'm the majority leader the last two years of the current term. >> is not an election year. why would you not commit to that? >> i'm not going to comment. >> two separate questions. number one, your campaign
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committee is not getting involved in primaries. given a little bit of time, wondering what you think about that. number two, are you convinced that no republican will engage with talks with democrats to change the rules to do a voting rights bill? >> yeah, on the latter. on involvement in primaries, the rnc has stayed out of primaries. that is not new. there are other groups like the senate leadership fund that have from time to time intervened. my attitude depends on one thing -- are we about to get an unelectable candidate? i don't know how long you have been around, i'm going to mention four names and ask a question. [laughter] sen. mcconnell: christine o'donnell, sharon angle, todd akin, and richard murdoch.
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what do they all have in common? they are not senators. my point is -- look. i don't care how you describe yourself, whether you consider yourself a trump candidate for this candidate or that candidate, there are ways to evaluate electability. the only way i can see groups involving is if you are on the verge of nominating someone who is unelectable. that has not happened yet. sen. mcconnell: i don't know. the primary season lies ahead in the spring. it makes a difference who wins. we won one seat in georgia, we would not be talking about reckless tax and spending. the whole approach would have
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forced president biden to be what he said he was going to be in the primary, a moderate. maybe intervention, maybe not depending who gets in and likelihood of success in november. most of the states that are going to be in play to determine who is in the majority, you got a competitive general election situation. >> the anniversary of the january 6 attack is coming up. i was wondering if you are concerned about potential or future violence, given that president trump and his loyalists are following people on state election boards and democrats are worried that this could lead to some crisis down the line for a future election. sen. mcconnell: what i'm worried about right now is hopefully seeing the end of reckless taxes and spending spree and getting ready for next year.
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>> senator graham said last week that you cannot be an effective republican leader without a working relationship with donald trump. two-part question. when is the last time you spoke to donald trump, and have you nays faced in hurdles in being republican leader? what hurdles have you faced, considering you did not have a working relationship with donald trump? sen. mcconnell: i think that is a good question you can pose to my members as to how they feel about the job i have done. once in a while, somebody says something a little different. i choose not to get particularly upset about it. we have 50 free agents who are free to say whatever they choose. you might ask my members. >> what is the last time you talk to him?
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>> going back to the question about meeting with senator manchin, can you talk about what advice he was seeking from you? sen. mcconnell: i'm not going to talk about what we talked about. obviously, i have more in common with him, our states are similar. we have, on many issues, more aligned views that almost everybody else on that side of the aisle. so we talk about a variety of things. >> i want to ask about your relationship with chuck schumer. there was a moment after the first debt ceiling increase, the temporary one, where he went to the floor and had a speech about how democrats had raised the debt ceiling. i'm curious how that relationship over the last several months has evolved. sen. mcconnell: we have a rather good relationship, but a lot of
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how much the two of us deal with each other depen on what the majority is trying to do. i think you have been here all year, you know that most of what they are trying to do we think is the wrong thing to do. when you are trying to jam the minority in a 50-50 senate, there is not a lot to talk about. but on issues like infrastructure and the china bill where there was enough bipartisan support, i think our relationship is fine. >> on the debt limit, the $2.5 trillion carries into early 2023. do you have any doubt that raising the debt limit is going to be a problem? sen. mcconnell: i can tell you with regard to the debt ceiling, is never a pleasant experience, but it is important to make sure the american people and all those involved in our economy know that we will never default.
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>> there is a compromise that was announced recently about the vice president pence against women act. i was wondering if you support the bipartisan proposal on vawa that was released. sen. mcconnell: i have not taken a look at that recently. >> you said inflation was a number one issue for you. what you think the american people who are feeling it might now, not spending more money, with you would be hard to think that would happen. what would you say to folks at home? sen. mcconnell: the single best thing we can do for the american people is to kill the reckless tax and spending spree, quit doing what we have been doing, which larry summers accurately predicted produced exactly that. i think a 40-year high inflation rate has everybody's attention. we need to quit doing the wrong things. i'm going to take one more.
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>> going way back [inaudible] -- to what you were state foreign operations subcommittee chair and you got a lot of interest in foreign budgets and aid and everything, do you support ted cruz doing a blanket hold of state department nominees? sen. mcconnell: i think he has a pretty reasonable request. he is trying to get a vote on nordstream 2, and frequently, these tactics are used, i have used them occasionally, to get something you want that is not unreasonable. i think what senator cruz is trying to achieve is fine with me, i think it is not unreasonable. thanks a lot. s not unreasonable. thanks a l [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyl cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its
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>> senator mcconnell is traveling around his home state of kentucky today to view the damage of last weekend's tornadoes. he will not be in the senate today for the 22 votes on executive judicial nominations that are planned in the chamber today. other senators are also not taking part. the first vote of the day, 80 senators cast votes. as always watch the senate liesh on c-span2. watch the senate live on c-span2. a coming up today on c-span, white house national security advisor jake sullivan speaks to the council on foreign relations about president biden's first year in office. that's live at 1 p.m. eastern. and shortly after that, dr. francis cullins talks about his tenure as director of the national institutes of health. that's live from "the washington post" at 2:15 p.m. eastern on c-span. you can also watch everything at or on our free video
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app c-span now. >> how exexactly -- >> we believe one of the greatest characteristics of being american is we are striving tro provide equal opportunity for all citizens. >> c-span's video dawmentry competition 202t students ayos the country are giving us behind the scenes look as they work on their entries using the #student cam. if you are a middle or high scwool student, join the conversation by entering the c-span student cam exe tismghts create a five to six minute documentary, using c-span video clips, that answer yet how does the federal government impact your life? >> be passionate about what you are discussing. to express your view no matter how large or small you think the audience will receive it to be. i know that in the greatest country in the history of the earth your view does matter. >> to all the filmmakers,
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