The day after Congress voted to end the government shutdown, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared there would be no repeat of the shutdown that he didn't want in the first place. "A government shutdown is off the table," McConnell told The National Review. "We’re not going to do it." In raising the debt limit and opening the government on Wednesday night, Congress set December 13 as the deadline for Democrats and Republicans to come to a budget agreement. Government funding runs out January 15. But those deadlines won't bring another crisis, he said.
McConnell didn't mention Sen. Ted Cruz, who led the shutdown-the-government-to-defund-Obamacare fight. In fact, when National Review's Robert Costa asked about Cruz, McConnell "had no comment--at all. Stone-faced." But McConnell's comments are pretty clear criticism of Cruz's actions. "I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is," McConnell told The Hill. (Cruz was elected last year.) McConnell said:
"One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid 1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days... There is no education in the second kick of a mule. There will not be a government shutdown."
I told you so, McConnell said: "I can tell you when I knew that we’d end up here — July," he told National Review. "We had extensive discussions in July about how the defund strategy couldn’t possibly succeed."
Part of that failure was due to the inability of a divided House Republicans to come to their own version of a budget deal, thereby pushing the dealmaking over to the Democrat-led Senate. "Is the House a functioning majority?" Costa asked. McConnell avoided a direct answer. "Look, I’m just going to talk about the facts. I’m in a weaker position when the House can’t act," he said. The second edition of the budget fight in January and February will be similarly bitter, and McConnell said the focus should not be on Obamacare — as Cruz and his allies demanded — but on locking in the sequestration level spending of the Budget Control Act. "Keeping the BCA levels is a huge success, and I know because Democrats hate it," McConnell said.
For his part, Cruz isn't backing down to McConnell's plan so easily. In an ABC News interview, Cruz evaded several questions on whether he would shut down the government again. "I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare," he said.