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McConnell: Biden’s hardline debt ceiling stance clashes with past willingness of negotiate

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told “The Story” that while President Biden is expected to attack the GOP, particularly “MAGA Republicans” over issues like the debt ceiling at his State of the Union address, the president must recall his history of negotiating in good faith as a senator.

McConnell spoke to Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum Tuesday in his only television interview before Biden’s State of the Union address. MacCallum recounted how House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wants spending cuts in exchange for a negotiated debt ceiling figure.

McConnell recalled how former President Barack Obama assigned then-Vice President Biden to be the administration’s liaison to the Republican-led Senate at the time.

“Actually, Joe Biden and I did this back in 2011. He was delegated by the president to deal with me as a leader of my party in the Senate. We negotiated the Budget Control Act, which actually reduced spending for two years in a row for the first time since right after the Korean War,” McConnell said.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Fox News)

“So the president knows that he himself has a history of negotiating in connection with the debt ceiling. So I think what the speaker is asking him to do is not unreasonable and certainly within precedent.”

However, Biden recently hasn’t shown much willingness to negotiate. He made it clear during an event in Springfield, Va., that he would “veto everything they (the Republicans) send.”

Regarding the Chinese surveillance dirigible that floated first over the Aleutian Islands and later the Lower 48, MacCallum cited a “tongue-in-cheek” Wall Street Journal editorial questioning how other reported spy balloons could not be detected with an $850 billion Pentagon budget.

“Look, I’m one of the Gang of Eight – one of eight people entitled to know virtually everything in the intelligence field,” McConnell replied. “I never heard anything about this. And regardless of whether we knew about it in the past, let’s just focus on what did happen last week.”

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The White House said on Friday President Joe Biden would not shoot down the suspected Chinese spy balloon, despite calls from lawmakers and others. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP/Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)

McConnell echoed other administration critics, questioning how there was no safe way to down the dirigible over Alaska or expansive open spaces in the Great Plains. Other critics noted Biden could have engaged the Canadian government to take joint action when the balloon was over the Yukon.

“We have lots of questions as not only why did you not know this has happened in the past, but why did you deal with this the way you did?” McConnell said.

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“That was like at a survey this morning who said only 13% of the American people thought the State of the Union was strong. This is the kind of weak reaction coupled with things like withdrawing from Afghanistan that haphazard way that we did that in 2021, that leave the American people with the impression that the country is not doing well.”

In ensuing remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell remarked that under Biden, “the State of our Union is apparently under Chinese surveillance from our own skies.”

Fox News’ Caroline Long contributed to this report.

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