At a Koch Brothers-hosted secret strategy conference of right-wing millionaire and billionaire political activists in June, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised that if his party wins control of the United States Senate this November, the Senate will not waste time on things like increasing the minimum wage for people making only about $15,000 annually. Instead, audio of his remarks obtained by The Nation reveals, his Senate will focus on repealing Wall Street reforms, environmental protections, and affordable healthcare.
McConnell spoke at an annual event hosted by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort in Dana Point, CA. The conference, titled “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” reportedly attracted hundreds of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and aimed to raise $500 million toward making McConnell the Senate majority leader next year and another $500 million to defeat a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
McConnell, who has been attacked by his opponent for voting 17 times against minimum wage increases, made it clear that under his leadership there would not be any increase in the current $7.25 federal minimum wage. “And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage,” he told the billionaires in attendance.
In the same speech, McConnell lamented the signing of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (“McCain-Feingold”) as “the worst day of my political life,” and praised the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 Citizens United ruling for “[leveling] the playing field for corporate speech” and creating “the most free and open system we’ve had in modern times.” Thanks largely to that ruling, outside groups have already spent more than $8.5 million in support of McConnell’s own re-election and against his Democratic opponent.
At the same event, Republican Senate nominees Joni Ernst of Iowa, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Cory Gardner of Colorado, heaped praise on the Kochs and their extensive pro-GOP political network, according to the Huffington Post.
As he did last week, McConnell told the wealthy activists that a Republican majority would insert language into government spending bills that would require President Obama to repeal his administration’s principal accomplishments or risk another government shutdown.
McCONNELL: So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called ‘placing riders in the bill.’ No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board.
This comment seems to contradict his own pledge last October that “there will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that.”
A McConnell spokesman did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about whether he stands by these remarks.