McConnell: Debt ceilng vote was 'to protect the country'

02/14/2014 01:30 PM

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said Friday that voting this week to clear the way for increasing the debt ceiling was necessary to protect the country even though the measure didn’t come with any debt-reducing stipulations as McConnell called for a month ago.

The vote, McConnell told reporters, was an example of his leadership and doing what was necessary for the country to avoid default.

“My job is to protect the country when I can and to step up and lead in those occasions when it’s required. That’s what I did,” McConnell said at a Louisville business to accept the endorsement of the National Federation of Small Business Owners.

McConnell has also been attacked from his right-flank over his vote to break a filibuster brought by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. McConnell, fellow GOP leader John Cornyn and 10 other Republicans joined Democrats to voted to end the filibuster and allow a vote on the bill to raise the debt ceiling until March 2015. That bill was “a clean” increase in the debt ceiling that didn’t include the type of provisions McConnell had called for just last month.

McConnell ultimately voted against raising the debt ceiling bill, but that didn’t stop him from drawing the ire of Matt Bevin the Republican candidate who is challenging McConnell in the primary, May 20.

“I wish I could say I am surprised that Mitch McConnell voted to hand President Obama another blank check. But sadly, I am not, because this is more of the same from a career politician who has voted for bigger government, multiple bailouts, and now 11 debt ceiling increases,” Bevin said on Wednesday.

On Friday, the National Federation of Independent Business Owners officially endorsed McConnell at the event which turned towards the bizarre before McConnell even arrived from the airport — he was delayed in route because of weather.

Two political trackers and one Louisville journalist were kicked out of the invitation-only campaign stop at CSS Distribution Group, a Louisville packaging material company. The journalist, Joe Sonka of the Louisville Eccentric Observer, was later allowed to re-enter and attend the brief campaign stop where virtually every major Louisville media outlet was in attendance.

Afterward, reporters asked McConnell about another issue that has been an undertone of the brewing general election race: raising the minimum wage. Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes had been promoting her economic plan that includes a call to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

McConnell was asked why he opposes the legislation — even though a majority of Kentuckians say they favor raising the rate.

The Grimes campaign continued to criticize McConnell for voting to allow congressional pay raises but not the nation’s minimum wage.

“It is shameful that Mitch McConnell has no problem voting to give himself taxpayer-funded pay raises, but declares a pay raise for hardworking Kentucky families, including 255,000 women, unworthy of his support,” the Grimes campaign said in a statement.


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