If Republicans take back the Senate next session, Sen. Mitch McConnell is promising his party will use budget bills to attack President Obama's policies—and he's specifically calling out the president's environmental agenda.
"We're going to pass spending bills, and they're going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy," McConnell told Politico in a newly published interview. "That's something he won't like, but that will be done. I guarantee it."
McConnell cited work done by the Environmental Protection Agency as a potential target, and while his office did not respond to an inquiry over which specific policies he meant, there's a laundry list of regulations he has targeted in the past. McConnell, a defender of Kentucky's coal industry, is a persistent critic of EPA's plan to cut greenhouse gases from power plants. He has also gone after EPA and Interior Department efforts to regulate mountaintop-removal coal mining, and worked against the administration's longstanding promise to redo regulations on coal ash and other byproducts of coal-fired power plants.
The Kentucky Republican, who is battling for his own reelection in the Bluegrass State, has called those rules a threat to coal-industry jobs in his state and already floated plans to push for votes on anti-EPA amendments earlier this year. In March Obama threatened to veto a House bill to block the power-plant regulations, which are a centerpiece of his climate-change agenda.
What remains unclear is whether McConnell would be willing to press those spending fights to the point of a government shutdown. He did not specifically promise a shutdown showdown, but he did say his party would force Obama to make hard decisions regarding what spending bills he'd be willing to accept.
"He would have to make a decision on a given bill, whether there's more in it that he likes than dislikes," McConnell said.
If Obama won't sign a federal spending bill that contains the riders and Republicans won't vote for a bill that doesn't, that could create a stalemate similar to the one that led to last fall's impasse.
That list of hypotheticals, The Hill reports, has not stopped Democrats from pouncing on McConnell's comments—hoping to convert public frustration over last fall's government shutdown into fundraising help with this fall's election.
And as Quartz reports, "The only thing that would make congressional Democrats happier than a Republican attempt to impeach President Obama is if Republicans force another government shutdown."