McConnell on ABC "This Week"

Interview

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: May 20, 2007
Location: Washington, DC

Immigration bill can't possibly be completed before Memorial Day, troop funding can't include a surrender date, McConnell says

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" this morning. The program focused on Iraq and Immigration. The following are excerpts from the program:

- IRAQ

On surrender dates in the troop funding bill:

"Well, waivable or not, we don't want a retreat date in there, a surrender date. Because it sends the wrong message to our allies. It sends the wrong message to the Iraqis. It sends the wrong message to the troops.

On veto bait, benchmarks and the need to pass the funding bill by Memorial Day:

"I do have the votes to uphold the veto. We need to stay away from a surrender date."

"We know what can pass. We had a bipartisan vote in the Senate on a proposal by Senator Warner. Eight Democrats voted for it. What the Speaker needs to do is understand that there are two houses, and at the end, if we're going to actually pass a law that the President can sign, what can get through the Senate is a critical point.

"And if you really want to get the money to—look, we've had 100 days now of requests. This request has been up here for 100 days. We've had 30 Iraq votes during those 100 days. Not a single penny has been provided for the troops."

"Now, the leaders of Congress, on a bipartisan basis, said they'd like to finish this job before Memorial Day. We've got one week left to do it. The way to do it is to craft a proposal that can get through the United States Senate."

"Look, things are going to change in Iraq. I'm certainly not happy with the Iraqi government. Nobody has been more critical of them than I have. Benchmarks applied to the Iraqi government make a lot of sense. General Petraeus even said back in February he thought that was a good idea. That's the way to go."

"Well, look, we need to have a compromise if we want to get the job done before Memorial Day. We know how to get there. It's to take out the surrender date. Any kind of reasonable benchmarks on the Iraqi government I think are going to have broad bipartisan support. That's clearly the way to get there.

"I think the speaker seems to be a little bit reluctant to pass a bill in the House with Republican votes. I mean, I think a significant percentage of her conference apparently doesn't want to pass the bill at all."

- IMMIGRATION

On the need to have more than one week of debate on the legislation:

The immigration bill "can't possibly be completed before Memorial Day. This is a big, complicated piece of legislation. It was originally scheduled for two weeks, and I think it's bound to go for at least a week beyond the Memorial Day recess."

On the bipartisan immigration proposal:

"Some would argue that allowing 12 million illegals in the country right now, free to move around the country, is a form of amnesty. Everyone's against amnesty. The question is: How do you go forward on this bill?

I think it's an improvement over the status quo. It may get better, George, in the course of the two weeks of debate we'll need to have to pass the bill."

"Better from my point of view is certainly no amnesty, strengthened borders. I think we're going to go a long way toward strengthened borders."

On debating the immigration bill:

"We ought to vote to proceed to the bill tomorrow. I will say this, though, this is not a one-week bill. This is a two-week bill. It's got to go on for at least a couple of weeks to give everybody the opportunity in the Senate to feel like they've had their chance to offer amendments that they think would improve the bill."

"All we're doing tomorrow is voting on a motion to proceed to the bill, to get on to the bill. What I'm saying is, once we get on the bill, it's a two-week bill at least. In other words, everybody is going to have a fair opportunity to offer amendments to improve."

"Most Americans are not happy with the status quo. They think we ought to do something. The question is, what? In order to do something, we have to get on to the bill, and that vote will occur tomorrow."

On the need for a ‘trigger' in the bill:

"The trigger provision is critical and needs to be in the bill. The very fact that you and I are sitting trying to figure out what's in it illustrates that everybody got the bill midnight Saturday night, which is another reason why we need to spend at least two weeks on this bill on the floor of the Senate."

- ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES

On the Democrats' proposal to vote on a resolution against Attorney General Gonzales:

"Well, we won't have a no-confidence resolution in the Senate unless there are other resolutions. In the Senate, nobody gets a clear shot. If there's a resolution on Attorney General Gonzales, there will probably be another kind of resolution. So we'll see what happens."