U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor Monday regarding a bipartisan proposal to avoid default and reduce Washington spending:
"I'd like to say a few words now about the ongoing debt ceiling discussions.
"I think the American people can be excused for being a little confused at this point as to what's going on here in Washington, and a little bit frustrated. I am too, frankly.
"There is no reason in the world that the American people should have had to wake up this morning unsure of whether Washington was going to resolve this problem.
"Candidly, as of Saturday afternoon, I had no doubt that a solution was at hand.
"After the President's performance on Friday, leaders from both parties in both houses got together and decided we needed to come up with a way forward on our own.
"And that's just what we did.
"We came together in good faith and decided to do the right thing. Everyone agreed that default wasn't an option, so we put together a responsible proposal that prevented default while reducing Washington spending.
"Republicans and yes, some Democrats, have been clear for months that tax hikes couldn't be part of the package. We've also been clear that serious cuts would have to part of any package.
"So taking all this into consideration, the responsible path forward was clear to everyone: a plan that avoided default and required additional savings before any further increase in the debt limit.
"Leaders from both parties in both houses agreed that this was the right path forward legislatively. The only thing to do at that point was to present this bipartisan solution to the President.
"And what was the President's response: to demand the largest single debt limit increase in history, half a trillion more than the previous biggest increase Democrats approved two years ago when they controlled both Congress and the White House.
"And this was the President's justification -- as he put it on Friday, `The only bottom line I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013.'
"There is absolutely no economic justification for insisting on a debt-limit increase that brings us through the next election.
"It's not the beginning of a fiscal year.
"It's not the beginning of a calendar year.
"Based on his own words, it's hard to conclude that this request has to do with anything, in fact, other than the President's re-election.
"Look: Congress has raised the federal debt limit 63 times since 1972. The average length of an increase over that period is just over seven months. But now the President says it has to be nearly two years. Why? So he can continue to spend as he pleases.
"This weekend, we offered the President a bipartisan proposal to avoid default so we could have the time we need to put together a serious plan for getting our house in order, and he rejected it out of hand. Not for economic reasons. But, as he put it, `to extend this debt ceiling through the next election.'
"Time is running out. And with all due respect to the President, we have more important things to worry about than getting through the next election.
"A bipartisan plan to resolve this crisis was within reach this weekend. The President has to know that this approach is the responsible path forward. It should be back on the table.
"Congressional leaders of both parties have shown they are willing to work in good faith. I would suggest that the President reconsider their offer rather than veto the country into default.