McConnell: ‘America is not going to default’

Mitch McConnell
FILE - In this June 30, 2017 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, speaks in Elizabethtown, Ky. The number of people without health insurance in the U.S. has grown by nearly 2 million this year, according to a major new survey. It may foreshadow deeper coverage losses if Republican legislation passes Congress and estimates of its impact prove accurate. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there is “zero chance” Congress will allow the country to default on its debts by voting to not increase the borrowing limit.

McConnell’s comments came Monday during a joint appearance in his home state of Kentucky with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It was one of McConnell’s first public appearances since President Donald Trump publicly criticized him for failing to pass a repeal and replacement of former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

McConnell did not mention Trump in his remarks, and he did not take questions from reporters after the event. But in response to a question about where he gets his news, McConnell said he reads a variety of sources, including The New York Times.

“My view is most news is not fake,” McConnell said, which appeared to be a subtle rebuke of one of Trump’s favorite phrases. “I try not to fall in love with any particular source.”

The government has enough money to pay its bills until Sept. 29. After that, Congress would have to give permission for the government to borrow more money to meet its obligations, including Social Security and interest payments.

McConnell sought to calm a crowd of nervous business leaders by interjecting at the end of Mnuchin’s answer to a question about what would happen if lawmakers did not increase the borrowing limit.

“Let me just add, there is zero chance, no chance, we won’t raise the debt ceiling,” McConnell said. “America is not going to default.”

Addressing the country’s borrowing limit will be the most pressing issue when lawmakers return to Washington following their August recess. After that, Republicans will likely turn their attention to overhauling the nation’s tax code.

McConnell said Congress is unlikely to repeal a pair of Obama-era laws most hated by conservatives. While negotiations about health care are ongoing, McConnell said the path forward is “somewhat murky.” And he said it would be “challenging” to lift the restrictions placed on banks following the 2008 financial crisis, known as “Dodd-Frank.”

On tax reform, McConnell said the only thing lawmakers won’t consider eliminating are deductions on mortgage interest and charitable deductions.

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