Sen. Mitch McConnell: 'The Tax Issue Is Finished'
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. R-Ky., Sunday said he will not accept any new revenue in future deals with congressional Democrats and President Obama.
"The tax issue is finished. Over. Completed," McConnell told me on "This Week." "That's behind us. Now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and that's our spending addiction.
"We didn't have this problem because we weren't taxing enough," McConnell added.
He blamed Obama and Democrats for waiting to resolve budget issues until the last minute.
Read a transcript of the full interview with Sen. Mitch McConnell HERE.
"Why we end up in these last-minute discussions is beyond me. We need to function," McConnell said. "I mean, the House of Representatives, for example, passed a budget every year. They've passed appropriation bills.
"The Senate Democratic majority and the president seem to like these last-minute deals."
McConnell said that the biggest issue facing the country in the next year is the deficit and spending. And he predicted that the issue would occupy the congressional agenda in the first three months of the year, overtaking Obama's other priorities, including gun control.
"But the biggest problem we have at the moment is spending and debt," McConnell said. "That's going to dominate the Congress between now and the end of March. None of these issues, I think, will have the kind of priority that spending and debt are going to have over the next two or three months."
On the expected nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as the secretary of Defense by Obama, McConnell said he would evaluate Hagel's past statements before determining whether he could support his nomination in the Senate.
"I'm going to take a look at all the things that Chuck has said over the years and review that, and in terms of his qualifications to lead our nation's military," McConnell said. "The question we will be answering if he's the nominee, is do his views make sense for that particular job? I think he ought to be given a fair hearing, like any other nominee, and he will be."
McConnell, who in 2008 praised Hagel for his clear voice and stature on foreign policy and national security, now says he will reserve judgment on his possible nomination until after a Senate confirmation hearing.
"I'm going to wait and see how the hearings go and see whether Chuck's views square with the job he would be nominated to do," he added.