McConnell: GOP Plans To Stop 'Liberal Onslaught'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's not apologizing for saying his top priority is making President Obama a one-term president. He says that since the president has veto power, he has to go — if Republicans are to achieve their goals of repealing health care and shrinking the government.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

And in this part of the program: next steps for the newly strengthened GOP. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is leaving no doubt that he will use his expanded forces to stymie President Obama's agenda. Senate Republicans picked up at least six more seats on Tuesday. That does not put them in charge, but it gives them 47 votes. That's six more than they need to block legislation.

We'll hear from a Republican senator-elect after this report from NPR's David Welna.

DAVID WELNA: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, to expound on Tuesday's vote, and what he takes it to mean for Republicans. He acknowledged right off the bat this election was more about what voters were against than what they were for.

Senator MITCH McCONNELL (Republican, Kentucky; Senate Minority Leader): The voters didn't suddenly fall in love with Republicans. We know that. They fell out of love with Democrats.

WWELNA: But McConnell also claimed voters rewarded Republicans for having stood up to what he called the left-wing agenda of President Obama and congressional Democrats over the past two years. And he defended having said recently that his party's top political priority over the next two years would be to deny Mr. Obama a second term.

Sen. McCONNELL: We can hope the president will start listening to the electorate after Tuesday's election, but we can't plan on that. And it would be foolish to expect that Republicans will be able to completely reverse the damage Democrats have done as long as a Democrat holds the veto pen.

WELNA: But McConnell made clear that veto pen wouldn't deter Republicans from trying to stop what he called the liberal onslaught.

Sen. McCONNELL: We will make the case for repeal of the health spending bill even as we vote to eliminate its worst parts. We will vote to freeze and cut discretionary spending. We will fight to make sure that any spending bill that reaches the Senate floor is amendable, so members can vote for the spending cuts Americans are asking for.

WELNA: If the Obama administration wants cooperation, McConnell added, it will have to begin to move in the direction of Republicans.

Sen. McCONNELL: The White House has a choice. They can change course, or they can double down on a vision of government that the American people have roundly rejected.

WELNA: President Obama has not signaled a course change. But today, he did make clear at a White House Cabinet meeting that he's had it with political strife.

President BARACK OBAMA: We can't afford two years of just squabbling. What we need to do is make sure that everybody is pulling together -Democrats and Republicans and independents.

WELNA: But as Republicans learned Tuesday, two years of squabbling may work to their advantage.

David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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