A Teleconference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Earlier today, I was in on a teleconference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. What follows are my notes, not quotes, from the teleconference.

Opening Statement

It looks like the Democrats are looking for a Goldilocks resolution that’s hot enough for their base, but cool enough for them to claim that they’re still for the troops. The problem is that none of these resolutions is “just right.” Their current policies are being driven by 2008 Democratic presidential politics.

After unanimously confirming Petraeus, the Democrats want to tell him that his mission would fail and want to tell him how to conduct his operation via congressional resolution. It’s absurd and counterproductive because their goal is to micro-manage this war to a premature conclusion.

Question and Answer Session

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Q: Are the Democrats simply trying to do things that won’t pass? Will the surge be able to play it out?

A: There’s only one to impact it — to refuse to fund it. They should stop trying to discourage Petraeus and the troops and should try to cut off funds, if that’s what they want to do.

Q: Do you think we could end up in the SCOTUS over this?

A: Well, resolutions that don’t try to micromanage the war won’t.

Q: Joe Lieberman said yesterday that he might throw his lot in with the Republicans over the war. Would that have an impact?

A: Yes. We’d take over the Senate. But, let me say this about Joe: he made it clear last year that he intended to caucus with the Democrats, even though he is very estranged from the Democrats on post 9/11 strategy. So, I don’t expect to him to come over with us. He feels like he has earned the right to be an independent. Also, reports that say the Senate wouldn’t shift if he voted with us aren’t correct.

Q: So will next week be a key week?

A: Not really. The only way for them to cut off the war is to cut off the funding. Under the Constitution, Congress does not have the authority to micromanage a war, but they do have the authority to cut off funding. On the issue of funding the troops, almost every Republican would want to continue funding them and the Democrats are divided.

Q: Are we going to have comprehensive immigration reform?

A: We have been looking at that and the vast majority of Republicans are willing to go along with it if we’re serious about border security and don’t consider amnesty.

Q: How do you convince people you’re serious about border security?

A: I think we are getting results. The border isn’t secure, but it’s getting better. Also, the guestworker program shouldn’t be related to citizenship. They should be completely different issues.

Q from me: We would probably disagree about what “amnesty” is, so let me ask if there are any specific redline issues that would cause the Senate GOP to filibuster the bill? Citizenship for guest workers, social security for illegals, etc.?

A: Republicans are in a lot of different places on illegal immigration. I don’t know what we can or can’t filibuster on at this point.

Q: Could hate crimes legislation get through the Senate?

A: I don’t know what the lay of the land is on that yet.

Q: Do you think the Dems could get socialized medicine through?

A: I don’t think the American people would stand for a single payer system and I think there would be a vigorous effort made to defeat it.

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