An aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that McConnell “kept his promise to Kentuckians that he would not risk another government shutdown or default” when he voted Wednesday to help Democrats cut off debate on a bill to suspend the nation’s debt ceiling.
McConnell, who along with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, led a small group of Republicans in joining Senate Democrats to beat a filibuster on the “clean” debt ceiling bill, has come under intense fire from Republican challenger Matt Bevin and his allies.
McConnell voted against the bill on final passage, but McConnell’s role in leading members of his caucus to help Democrats cut off debate earned the wrath of Bevin and Tea Party groups.
McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said in a statement that McConnell “has consistently said that raising the debt limit without corresponding cuts in spending is irresponsible, and that’s why he and every Senate Republican were united in the final vote against the debt ceiling hike.”
“Sen. McConnell strongly believes that the President and Democrats in Congress are failing the country by refusing to fix Washington’s underlying spending problem,” Steurer said. “Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are in the majority and they were determined to hike the debt limit.”
Republican leaders were determined to avoid another stand-off like the one last October over the federal budget that shut down the government, hurt Republican standing with the public and took focus off of the widely-maligned rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Bevin called the vote “financially reckless.”
“I wish I could say I am surprised that Mitch McConnell voted to hand President Obama another blank check,” Bevin said in a statement. “But sadly, I am not because this is more of the same from a career politician who has voted for bigger government, multiple bailouts and now 11 debt ceiling increases.”