The feud between Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP Sen. Rick Scott shows no signs of easing.
In a podcast that aired Thursday, McConnell called the Florida lawmaker’s proposal to “sunset” popular benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security a “bad idea.” President Joe Biden has been hitting Republicans hard on the subject since his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
McConnell sought to make clear that Scott’s proposal does not reflect Republican priorities, and would not have been part of the party’s agenda even if the GOP had won control of the chamber in November’s midterm elections.
“It’s clearly the Rick Scott plan, it is not the Republican plan,” McConnell told the “Terry Meiners” podcast, adding that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shares his view.
Scott, in his “Rescue America” plan published last year, stated: “All federal legislation sunsets in 5 years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.” This would also seem to include Medicare and Social Security.
McConnell said that both he and McCarthy have made clear the GOP has no intention of touching those benefit programs.
“We’re in a more authoritative position to state what the position of the party is than any single senator,” McConnell added.
The Senate minority leader insisted his rejection of Scott’s proposal has nothing to do with the senator’s failed challenge to lead Senate Republicans.
“Well, this doesn’t have anything to do with that,” McConnell said. Scott’s plan, he added, is just a “bad idea.”
Earlier this month, McConnell removed Scott from the powerful Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
McConnell said he expects the issue to be a “challenge” for Scott’s 2024 reelection, given Florida’s large population of retirees who rely on Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Biden on Thursday visited Tampa, where he took another jab at Scott.
“The very idea the senator from Florida wants to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years I find to be somewhat outrageous — so outrageous that you might not even believe it,” Biden told the audience.
Biden also referenced Scott’s proposal during his State of the Union speech, drawing the irritation of GOP members of Congress who didn’t want to appear tied to it.
House Republicans face another challenge after demanding Biden make spending cuts before they agree to raise the national debt limit. They may have to settle for narrower policy victories, as Democrats control the Senate and the White House, and Biden and other Democrats continue assailing Republicans for questioning Medicare and Social Security.