Mitch McConnell proclaims ‘I’m not afraid of protestors’

US Senate
US Senate

(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held a rare, wide-ranging news conference Friday with reporters in the Capitol.

He seemed to challenge protestors planning to make noise across the country during next week’s break.

“I’m not afraid of protestors,” McConnell proclaimed.

Asked whether he believes the Trump campaign had contacts with Russian government officials prior to the election, McConnell answered: “I have no idea.”

McConnell said that when the Senate returns after a week-long break, they’ll continue working through President Trump’s cabinet nominees before turning to tax reform and repealing and replacing Obamacare, which he said Senate Republicans are “100 percent committed to” seeing through. He later said that even if Democrats had won the election, they’d be changing the health care law themselves.

“Obamacare is crashing,” McConnell said. “It has to be dealt with.”

He said that the original text of the Affordable Care Act is a “massive punt” to the secretary of Health and Human Services “to do almost anything” and said he hopes HHS Secretary Tom Price will use his secretarial power to make changes.

The Kentucky Republican ticked through his majority’s accomplishments heading into the first recess, touting legislative activity to put the upper chamber on a path to repeal the ACA, overturning Obama-era regulations and confirming 13 cabinet nominees.

He criticized Senate Democrats for stalling the confirmation process, contending that their theatrics have “no impact on the outcome.”

“I hope at some point the other side will accept the results of the election,” McConnell said.

Asked whether Trump’s tweets are taking the party off message, McConnell admitted he is “not a great fan of daily tweets” but stressed that he is a “fan” of the actions the president has taken during his first four weeks in office.

McConnell remarked that he doesn’t see the Trump presidency far from how he could envision presidencies from Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, pointing to an “outstanding” cabinet that he says is the “most conservative” he’s seen during his time in the Senate.

He dismissed Democratic calls to delay a confirmation vote scheduled early Friday afternoon on Environmental Protection Agency administrator nominee Scott Pruitt in order to review about 3,000 documents from the Oklahoma Attorney General related to his conversations with the fossil fuel industry.

“If it wasn’t one thing it’d be another,” McConnell said, adding it is “pretty clear what is happening” as Democrats move “as slow as possible.”

He said that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch “is going to be confirmed” and applauded the president for a “spectacular job” to find the “best qualified” nominee. McConnell said he expects Gorsuch to be confirmed “before April.”

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