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Mitch McConnell
  Senate Republican Leaders News Conference  CSPAN  December 18, 2018 5:35pm-5:48pm EST

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that out by protecting our border in american citizens. tune into the event from the president. we will talk with you soon. thank you guys. announcer: join us later when the french embassy hosts a discussion on international organizations and their role in peace talks, fair trade, climate change and security. live coverage at 6:00 p.m. eastern . and you can also watch online at or use the free c-span radio app. money running out for several federal agencies friday night unless congress passes legislation. negotiations continue among the house, senate and white house. among the issues, whether president trump's border wall will get funding. the housemates on wednesday with votes scheduled in the evening. the senate is in session today working on criminal justice reform and changing sentencing laws. watch the house on c-span and the senate live on c-span2.
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announcer: next, senate republican and democratic leaders answering questions on the government funding deadline. we will hear first from senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. heads up. >> one more time. [cameras clicking] senator mcconnell: as you may have heard, i invited the democratic leader and senator leahy to my office this morning, along with senator shelby. we had a discussion about a proposal that we offered that i thought was reasonable to both
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sides, to give us an opportunity to thread the needle on the border security issue. i have heard back from senator schumer that the offer was not acceptable. and so now i am talking to the white house about the way forward. and we will have more to say about that, hopefully, a little bit later about what the president is willing to sign. i might say the administration is extremely flexible on this issue, and we are obviously -- we have consulted before. i sat down with senator schumer and senator leahy. and secondly, we are on criminal justice, we anticipate finishing that tomorrow. we just had another rather spirited discussion at our lunch about that issue. and reminiscent of spirited discussions we have had over the last six years, but we are now in the final stages of getting to passage on criminal justice.
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what is different about the criminal justice reform debate we are having is we have had a number of successful state-based experiments, including in texas, with prison reform, which recognizes the reality that people in prison will eventually get out of prison. and if you take low-risk offenders into account and give them access to recidivism-based programming to deal with their drug or alcohol edition, or education deficit, or their skill deficit, that many more of them will leave prison and not being rearrested and return back to prison in the turnstile of our criminal justice system. that saves money, it saves lives, it reduces the crime rate, and it reduces the incarceration rate. that is one of the things i think that people find the most interesting, is this is not just a measure of compassion toward
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the prisoner, this is basically a public safety measure that will actually make it less likely that people will leave prison, commit additional crimes, and her public safety, while saving money and giving people an opportunity for a second chance. as the leader pointed out, one of the things we need to do to wrap up the congress in this year is to fund the government and that means providing funding for border security. and if you look at historically past, 2006ts in the the democrat leader and ranking member on the senate judiciary committee voted for a border wall. as recently as 2013, every senate democrat voted for 700 miles of wall funding in a bill that included $46 billion for border security, a billion dollars for the wall. and i think we all agree that
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there are lots of people, hard-working people in this country who come here and play by the rules, the kind of thing we want to encourage. i had the opportunity to attend a citizenship ceremony in south dakota were 99 people from 33 different countries became american citizens, but they did it the right way. they follow the laws. the kind of thing we want to encourage. the thing we want to discourage is people coming here illegally. the key to that is a strong border and border security. so i hope the democrats will come around to the position that they have held historically. this should be an issue that enjoys bipartisan support. there is no reason why a democrat should not be supportive of making sure that we have a strong border that encourages people to come here legally and discourages people to come here illegally. this past weekend there was a ruling in texas about the
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affordable care act and it was ruled unconstitutional. as a doctor, people say, what does this mean to me? for most it does not mean anything until the courts continue to work this through the system. but for us in congress, it means we still have an opportunity to deal with the number one concern of the obamacare law, which is the cost of care. that is a concern for the majority of the american people when it comes to their health care, the cost of that care. and i will continue to work for ways to allow people to have the freedom and flexibility to buy insurance that is affordable and appropriate for them and their families. we have done this with the association health plans that allow people to come and work together, and it looks like there will be about formally and people who will be able to sign up for those plans, much more affordable care for them. and there are the short term plans, which actually can be going up to three years.
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again, much more affordable. for some of these plans, or the short term plans, the cost can be less than half of what care is under obamacare in terms of insurance. right now, we have a number of democrats who seem to be running for president who have a position, which is to get as far away from obamacare as they can, as they try to go with a single-payer government run health care system. which brings with it higher taxes and fewer choices and the longer lines that go with government run health care programs, as we see in england and canada. i'm willing to work and i want to work with more reasonably minded democrats on working to make sure people can get the care they need from a doctor that they choose at lower cost. whatll, we are wrapping up has really been a very productive congress. first major rewrite of the tax
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bill, of the tax law is 31 years. real regulatory reform. an faa bill that moves into the future. big moves on opioids and how to deal with that crisis, as well as health care research. a lot to talk about. we come to the end of this year now having to figure out how to fund the remainder of the government. whenery worst thing to do you are talking about funding the government is a government shutdown. the next worst thing is a long-term cr. where we say we cannot decide what to do this year, so we will do what we did last year. we could see another kind of a cr, i do not want to have that, but what i really do not want to do is lose the work of getting these bills to the floor, having them debated in ways they have not been before, and hopefully whatever happens in the next few days, we build
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on the work we have done as we look toward a year that we need to get funded as quickly as we can, and then we need to get started on that work in the next year. >> what happened with the putting last night- -- the bill together -- it fell apart at the last minute. senator mcconnell: where we are at the moment is i think that senator shelby and i made a reasonable offer to both sides -- offer and both sides should of been able to solve the border funding issue and is still pass the remaining bills. i believe that the incoming speaker, nancy pelosi, has little attitude to make a deal. and that may be senator
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schumer's view as well. but my impression is the incoming speaker feels she does not have the latitude to -- with. if i was in her shoes, i would rather not be dealing with this year's business next year. i would assume her preference would be to roll out the new democratic agenda with a fresh new democratic congress in the early stages, but i think that this prevents that if we end up going with a relatively short term cr -- we will end up punting this year's business into next year. and i do not think that is a desirable outcome from anybody's point of view. i would think it would be the least desirable outcome for the incoming speaker's point of view. -- is that part of the
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deal? senator mcconnell: as is customary, before recess the democrat leader and i will be talking about nominations. we have a lot of them stacked up. we will talk about trying to put together some kind of package on both executive branch nominations and judicial nominations. [indiscernible] >> the president -- how did you convince the president that a shutdown is not in the best interest of the government? senator mcconnell: i think the government shutdown is not a good option. that is my view. the american people do not like it. i do not know how many times, you remember my favorite country saying, there is no education than the second kick of a mule. we have been down this path before and i do not believe we will go down it again. >> [indiscernible] >> the white house says --
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>> sarah sanders -- if democrats have rejected your offer, is a short-term cr the only option right now? senator mcconnell: i am discussing with the white hous , where we go next. and once i get an answer to that anexcuse me -- once i get answer i will talk with senator schumer again and see what we can do. i think that there is bipartisan support for avoiding a government shutdown. and so we are now trying to figure out the way forward and i will get back to you when we know. >> put a finer point on that, are you convinced we will not shut down? [indiscernible] >> the white house says they want to see with the senate can pass, then the president will decide whether or not to sign it, do you know what the president will accept? senator mcconnell: