ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
After today’s meeting with President Obama at the White House, the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell returned to Capitol Hill to outline what it will take for him to agree to the administration’s request to raise the debt ceiling.
McConnell, R-KY, said it would take “significant” changes in short-term, medium-term, and long-term spending.
“To get my vote to raise the debt ceiling, it will require doing something in the short term. And to give you an example of something that I think could begin to get my vote, is to set the 302 A – that is, how much are we going to spend in our discretionary budget for the next two years – and continue to move that downward, so that we are actually reducing spending in the short term,” McConnell said at a press conference this afternoon.
“Number two, in the medium term – that is, beyond the two years on the discretionary side & on the entitlement side, but within the budget window, whether it’s five or 10 years, within the window, medium-term in the future – bend both discretionary spending with out-year caps and entitlement reductions.”
“And then third, in the long term we all know that long-term we have over $50 trillion in unfunded liabilities in very popular programs that Americans depend on – Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid – that are simply on an unsustainable path.”
However, McConnell warned, “There won’t be any Republican votes for raising taxes in connection with the decision to raise the debt ceiling.”
Overall, McConnell said today’s meeting between the president and GOP senators was “candid” and “went very well.” Numerous freshman Republicans spoke up, including Marco Rubio, Rob Portman, and Pat Toomey, as well as more experienced senators Tom Coburn and Bob Corker.
“I view this as a major opportunity for us to do something important for the country,” McConnell told reporters.
“When you do something big and difficult together, it’s not usable in the next election,” he added. “So I think we can stipulate that if there is a grand bargain of some kind with the President of the United States, none of it will be usable for either side in next year’s election, none of it. We can do something important for the country together, and this is the opportunity. That is the importance of this debt ceiling moment. It is the one time when we have to come together, and we need to come together to do something really significant.”
As McConnell stated earlier this week, he does not believe the Senate’s Gang of Six is the best hope for any bipartisan deal on debt reduction. Instead, he said, his focus is squarely on the negotiations being led by Vice President Biden – “the group that can actually reach a decision on a bipartisan basis.”