EXCLUSIVE: McConnell talks farm bill, SCOTUS, among other hot topics

08/17/2018 07:54 PM

By: Eva McKend

Kentucky’s senior senator is transforming the federal judiciary. Majority leader Mitch McConnell returned to Congress this week after canceling the August recess. In a rare one-on-one interview, Washington reporter Eva McKend learned why the next few weeks will be significant.

The close race between Congressman Andy Barr and Amy McGrath may be all the talk in Kentucky but Senator Mitch McConnell is remaining tight lipped on if he’ll enter the fray and campaign for Barr.

“It’s a purple district. It’s gone back-and-forth between the parties and I expect it will be a contested race right down to the end,” said McConnell.

The majority leader cancelled the August recess, calling back the Senate to work on the budget and haggle out a final version of the Farm Bill.

“The Farm Bill is really important this year. For American agriculture it’s not a very good time. They are having a lot of challenges but Kentucky in particular would benefit the most from the Farm Bill because the Senate version of it, I put in provisions to legalize industrial hemp,” said McConnell.

The senate it is also busy confirming a historic number of judges.

EVA: Should you and President Trump have the power to remake the entire federal judiciary?

“That’s possible under the constitution. I don’t think anybody in American ought to be concerned about the kind of men and women the President has been sending up and that we’ve been confirming. They are what we call strict constructionists, what does that mean? It means you try to follow the law as it is written. Justice Scalia used to say you are not a very good judge if you are not occasionally uncomfortable with the outcome you reach because it is dictated by the law,” said McConnell.

“The president has been nominating people that believe the job of the judge is to follow the laws as written and not to try to act as legislator. Justice Scalia said if you want to make policy, you ought to run for Congress and not be on the bench,” he added.

It’s unclear if McConnell will also use the extended time in Washington to put pressure on the president to bring the trade war to end.

“I was at a company Friday in Louisville, Caldwell Tanks, they were largely unaffected by it and they build aluminum tanks. There are others like Toyota in Central Kentucky, the bourbon industry and farmers who are concerned about it. I don’t know where this will end but I hope it ends soon and I hope if there are new and better deals to be made by the President that he can make them,” said McConnell.

He says expect SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh to be confirmed to the high court by October. While he’s in favor of figuring out a path forward on the border wall, he’s not willing to shut down the government in the process.

“I’m hopeful that ultimately we will be able to get funding for the wall. Also, I’m intent on avoiding a government shutdown. I don’t think that works well. The public doesn’t like it and I don’t think that would be a good thing for us to do five weeks before the election,” said McConnell.

Watch the segment:

Watch the full interview:


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.