McConnell: ‘No last-minute, back-room deal’ on sequester

As congressional leaders prepare to meet with President Obama at the White House on Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has drawn a line in the sand: Republicans will support no last-minute deals, and they will not raise taxes.

"We promised the American people that we would cut Washington spending, and the President signed those cuts into law," McConnell said in a statement. "Republicans have offered the President numerous solutions, including the flexibility he needs to secure those reductions more intelligently. I’m happy to discuss other ideas to keep our commitment to reducing Washington spending at today’s meeting. But there will be no last-minute, back-room deal and absolutely no agreement to increase taxes.”

Members of both the House and Senate have begun returning home, meaning there is no method for passing a last-minute deal anyway.

The Senate failed to pass either the Republican or Democratic sequester replacement bills on Thursday, meaning $85 billion in automatic cuts are officially set to start going into effect starting Friday. Congress can still replace those cuts with other ones if it comes to an agreement in the next few weeks, though.

McConnell has argued that such crises should be handled through the normal congressional process, complete with committees and debate between senators.

McConnell will be among the leaders meeting at the White House just after 10 a.m. Eastern.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · February 28, 2013