McConnell addresses stimulus, U.S. China relations, opinion on Daniel Cameron
In an exclusive interview with WNKY’s Lexi Schweinert Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed economic stimulus, the United States’ relations with China and other topics.
Q: You want a $500 billion stimulus bill, some people call it a ‘skinny bill.’ What is your thinking about why a smaller number is appropriate given the crisis facing the nation? Is it a fear that the debt cannot be repaid, higher taxes or something else?
McConnell: Well you know only the Democrats would consider half a trillion dollars not a lot of money, it’s an enormous amount of money, and the reason I put it on the floor is that this includes things that we agree on on a bipartisan basis – money for kids in schools, money for hospitals and healthcare providers, replenishing the small business loan program. At the same time, it’s the same as we did in the CARES Act which provided a total of $63 million for Warren County. Replenishing those programs is something we all agree on. The Democrats wouldn’t let us take the bill up. They blocked voters against it with the argument that ‘we won’t actively agree on if we can’t pass everything we want.’ I don’t think the American people are interested in this back and forth and back and forth. They’d like to have some relief and they need it now and that’s why I put it on the floor. Administration is also talking to the Speaker of the House – I don’t know if that will lead to an agreement or not. But if it does and it comes over from the House, we’d be glad to pick it up. But in the meantime the American public needs relief now and they thought that as well and that’s what we moved forward with, things that the Democrats agree on, this we emphasize.
Q: We learned that Russia and Iran are both interfering in the election, Iran even emailing American voters pretending to be from Proud Boys. What do you think this impact will be on voters?
McConnell: I think it will have no impact and it shows you how alert this administration is. They aren’t asleep at the switch like the Obama administration in 2016. None of us should be surprised that the Russians and Iranians are messing with us. They do it all the time. They did it in 2016. This time we’re much better prepared and they will fail.
Q. Facebook and Twitter recently suppressed an article from the New York Post that smeared Biden. What do you think about this?
McConnell: I think it’s disturbing. It’s really important that under the First Amendment that no one is the speech police. No one to determine who is to speak and who doesn’t. And I think that the social media guys were unwilling to carry the stories they suggested that may have been misbehavior if you will by Vice President Biden and his family to simply suppress that and not allow it to be disseminated is outrageous. So I think we need to take a look at how the Department of Justice is gonna do that.
Q. Daniel Cameron was once a part of your counsel. What do you think of the job he is doing as the Kentucky Attorney General now that he is facing a lot of heat for the way he handled the Breonna Taylor grand jury case, especially now that a judge is allowing grand jury members to speak publicly?
McConnell: Well it’s interesting that the public opinion poll out in Kentucky that you may have seen, it just came out today that I was looking at. Attorney General Cameron had a 54 percent approval rating, the same as the governor. And so I think the people of Kentucky think he’s doing an excellent job, and I do as well.
Q. What is your view of U.S. relations with China? Should U.S. foreign policy be harder on them or do you think a lessening of tensions would be best for the nation?
McConnell: I think our relationship with China is very shaky. If you look at how they’re running their country, the Chinese communist party is a squelching dissent in Hong Kong and with the Uighur minority in the western part of China. They are building up their defenses and their offensive capabilities, militarily in the South China Sea. Because of the very troubling period for us and China relations, I think the president standing up to them has done an excellent job to push back the Chinese, and I think in the wake of the coronavirus we need to think through having certain critical medical supplies produced and how it’s overseas. Many of those ought to come back to America in case we have another healthcare emergency like this pandemic.
Q. There’s a lot of conflict and divisiveness right now. Do you think there is room in our democracy for a third major political party?
McConnell: Well you know the reason we have a two-party system in America is because unlike some democracies you don’t get rewarded if you come in second. Some countries have systems where you do pretty good but don’t win, you still get a seat. We have a winner take all system, and that’s why we have the two-party system in America. There’s always independents who file for president and for Senate and for governor, but they rarely succeed because our voters vote for candidates who have a chance of winning.
Q. The vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett comes on Monday, can you tell me about that?
McConnell: Yeah, she came out of committee on Thursday, the day you and I are speaking. I’ll bring her up on the floor on Friday, we’ll stay here through the weekend. The Democrats are engaged in a number of different obstructionist tactics like voting for the juror and that sort of thing. None of that will work and she’ll be confirmed early on Monday and be the new member of the Supreme Court immediately.
Q. I gotta ask, because I’m a huge sports fan, who are you rooting for in the World Series?
McConnell: Well, if I have to choose between the Dodgers and the Rays, I guess I’m for the Dodgers but I’ve become a Washington Nationals fan, and we had a great year last year, won the World Series, came in last this year so that shows you how things can change in baseball.