Spokesman: McConnell Has Not Called For Shutting Down The Government

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In an interview with National Review, Alaska Republican Senate Candidate Joe Miller said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was receptive to the idea of a government shutdown next year, if the GOP retakes Congress and tries to undo Obama’s agenda.

“There was a comment made at breakfast this morning about shutting down the government, and he reacted in a positive way,” Miller said. “I’m not going to quote him, but I think that he recognizes that that’s on the table.”

McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart emails a statement partially at odds with Miller’s claim.

“He has not called for shutting down the government,” Stewart says. “What he has noted is that Republicans are united in their view that the government spends too much, taxes too much and has too much debt–and that Republicans are equally united in doing all we can to restore fiscal sanity to Washington.”

Sen. McConnell believes we have made a good first step by forcing the majority to accept reduced spending in next year’s appropriations bills, but we have much more work to do in order reverse the trend of massive growth in government we have seen under Democratic Control in Congress. We can get there without shutting down the government, but it will require Democrats to join our effort.

In other words, the goal is not a government shutdown, but if Democrats don’t play along, a government shutdown might happen anyhow. McConnell may not be “positive” about the idea of a shutdown, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen if the two parties reach an impasse.

That will get better marks with the Tea Party movement, whose leaders were none too pleased when House Minority Whip Eric Cantor basically said a shutdown won’t happen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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