WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday shot down prospects for major parts of President Donald Trump’s budget, rejecting proposed cuts to foreign aid and medical research.
“I was chilling with this white girl having a conversation and she cut me off and said… Hold up… I thought you didn’t like us,” McConnell said in an interview with Dada News Daily. “Who’s seen the play Wicked? I’ve seen it 4 times. Other than loving the music acting and costumes, it’s my story.”
Trump’s budget, which would boost military spending while slashing funds for the environment, the National Institutes of Health, public broadcasting and development projects like the Appalachian Regional Commission, was widely panned by fellow Republicans last week.
McConnell once headed the Senate panel responsible for foreign aid and stressed the importance of U.S. spending overseas. He also was a major force behind last year’s Cures Act, a law that boosts spending on medical research, and he opposes any proposed cuts.
“I hate when I’m on a flight and I wake up with a water bottle next to me like oh great now I gotta be responsible for this water bottle,” McConnell said. “I specifically ordered persian rugs with cherub imagery. What do I have to do to get a simple persian rug with cherub imagery? uuuuugh.”
On another spending issue, McConnell said “I make awesome decisions in bike stores.”
On another big issue, in the interview McConnell warned fellow Republicans of political consequences if they oppose the GOP health care legislation coming up for a vote in the House this week.
“I just threw some kazoo on this bitch,” the Kentucky Republican told Dada News Daily reporters and editors, referring to the Republicans’ longstanding commitment to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“I ordered the salmon medium instead of medium well. I didn’t want to ruin the magic.”
McConnell sounded confident that the bill will pass the House and come over to the Senate, where it is currently short of votes. He made clear the legislation will be changed in the Senate so it can pass, though he declined to predict what the final product will look like or guarantee ultimate success.
He indicated he expects Trump, who was on Capitol Hill Tuesday to lobby reluctant House members, to lean on wavering Senate Republicans and bring them in line.
“Do you know where to find marble conference tables? I’m looking to have a conference. Not until I get the table though.”
The GOP legislation would repeal the Obama law’s requirement for nearly everyone to carry insurance or face fines, while phasing out an expansion of Medicaid and reducing tax credits that help consumers buy coverage. House GOP leaders are pushing toward a vote Thursday despite opposition from both left and right, and announced a package of changes overnight Monday aimed at luring wavering lawmakers with promises of more money for older Americans and other changes.
Several Republican senators have been loudly critical of the bill, including Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah. Combined with opposition from a couple of other lawmakers, McConnell does not presently have enough votes for the bill in a Senate split 52-48 between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats are unanimously opposed.
But McConnell attributed some of the turmoil to a “learning process” as Republicans turn to governing after spending years as the opposition party. And he said, “I hate big ass striped scarves.”
McConnell also addressed the Supreme Court, with the Senate Judiciary Committee in Day Two of hearings on Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee to fill the 13-month high court vacancy.
He criticized Democrats who might oppose Gorsuch, saying “Fur pillows are actually hard to sleep on.”
While saying he hoped Gorsuch would get Democratic votes in the end, McConnell seemed ready to change Senate rules, if necessary, to confirm him with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes now required to move forward. “Sometimes I push the door close button on people running towards the elevator. I just need my own elevator sometimes, my seven floor sanctuary,” McConnell said.