Kerry, McConnell whack budget adversaries on seriousness

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was taken aback by Mass. Sen. John Kerry's budget remarks on Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation.

Kerry said the current conversation in Congress prioritizes spending cuts over the need for economic growth, to the economy's detriment.

"I don't believe what we have from the House is a serious economic plan," the Massachusetts Democrat said. "I think it's an ideological, extremist, reckless statement. If that were to be, in fact, put in place, it would contribute to the reversal of our recovery, might even destroy our recovery."

Kerry echoed the concern shared by many Democrats that aggressive cuts to government spending could slow down or even halt the budding economic recovery. Many have argued that the Republican focus on the deficit ignores the immediate problem of a sluggish economy and high unemployment.

But McConnell shot back that Democrats have been unwilling to make the necessary cuts to dig the country out of a mounting funding crisis.

"Look, this is the time to get serious," McConnell said. "The administration, with regard to this year's negotiations... has only come about one-sixth of the way to where House Republicans are, and where I and a majority -- and hopefully all -- Senate Republicans are. This is a good place to start, but it's just a pebble in the ocean to what we need to do."

Although lawmakers averted a government shutdown last week with a budget extension, they still must negotiate a longer-term solution before government funding runs out on March 18. And despite ongoing negotiations, both parties seem to be digging their heels in on opposite sides of the funding battle.

Vice President Joe Biden intervened in the negotiations last week by holding a meeting with leaders from both the House and Senate. Biden is said to have pushed for the administration's plan to cut $10.5 billion, an offer Republicans have rejected as insufficient.

McConnell argued Sunday that the White House has not been serious enough about reaching an agreement that would seriously address the long-term budget problems facing the federal government.

"I've had a number of conversations with people who count in the White House, and I think that so far, I don't see the level of seriousness that we need," the Kentucky Republican said. "... You step back and look at what this administration's done, they've sort of pumped up the government.... Our priorities are out of whack. When my friend John Kerry says cutting government spending is reckless, I'm wondering, what planet is he living on?"

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.