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McConnell says ‘time is ticking’ for Congress to pass a budget bill

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Congress is approaching a Dec. 16 deadline to pass a new spending agreement to avoid a government shutdown, and Mitch McConnell says leaders from both parties are still at a ‘pretty significant impasse’ in talks.

‘Time is ticking. We cannot agree on a top line. We are increasingly likely to do a short-term CR (continuing resolution) into early next year, and that may be the only way to proceed,’ the Senate minority leader said Tuesday at a press conference.

A CR would mean the Democrats would lose leverage over the next Congress by giving the incoming Republican majority the ability to set the spending agenda.

McConnell previously said he was in favor of a year-long omnibus, but he said Tuesday he is now dealing with the ‘practical situation, which is … we’re running out of time.’ 

In a interview Monday evening with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is poised to become speaker of the House, warned McConnell to ‘wait till we’re in charge’ to pass a big spending bill.

We’re 28 days away from Republicans having the gavel. We would be stronger in every negotiation. So any Republican that’s out there trying to work with [Democrats] is wrong,’ McCarthy said.

During a press conference Tuesday, McConnell denied McCarthy’s statements had an impact on his strategic decision to now push for a CR, reiterating that the issue is timing. 

‘There’s only so much you can do with the time that’s left, which leaves you only potentially with the option of a short-term CR into early next year,’ McConnell said. 

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week her ‘strong preference’ was to pass a bill providing money for the rest of fiscal year 2023, but she admitted that may not be possible and that a CR that leaves current funding levels in place might be the only option.

McConnell, when asked by a reporter if former President Trump should be president, said, ‘It would be hard to be sworn in to the presidency if you want to suspend the Constitution.’

Prominent Senate Republicans have been distancing themselves from Trump and his 2024 campaign after he called for the ‘termination’ of parts of the U.S. Constitution over the weekend due to Twitter’s handling of the 2020 election.

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