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GOP will have to be more bipartisan, hold off on "entitlement reform"
McConnell also lashed out at former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, to whom he attached some blame for Republicans' loss in the recent Alabama special election.
By Rick Docksai
Contributor
Jan 12, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Republicans have slim chances of achieving their stated ambition of trimming Social Security and other social-safety-net programs next year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday. In an end-of-year press conference, McConnell cautioned that the GOP's one-seat majority makes passing "entitlement reform" virtually impossible without support from Democrats.

"I've been here awhile and the only time we've been able to do that has been on a bipartisan basis, and it was a long time ago. It was Ronald Reagan and [former Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill] raising the age of Social Security, and that was before I got here," McConnell said. "The sensitivity of entitlements is such that you almost have to have a bipartisan agreement to achieve the result."

House Speaker Paul Ryan and several other Republican lawmakers indicated in the last few weeks that entitlement reform would be their next major priority after the tax bill. Ryan told a radio host in early December that Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid are "the big drivers of our debt" and that aid programs such as food stamps are "trapping people in unemployment" by encouraging them to not look for work.

But McConnell sounded grim about their chances. He told his audience that he'll focus on some bipartisan bills in the year ahead, including a bill to modify the 2010 Dodd-Frank bill anda bill to give legal status to "Dreamers," immigrants who had come illegally while children and who were being protected for the time being under the Dream Act.

McConnell also lashed out at former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, to whom he attached some blame for Republicans' loss in the recent Alabama special election. McConnell said that the party would concentrate on recruiting candidates "who can win in November."