WASHINGTON - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on the likelihood that the Senate might revisit the interchange amendment that was passed as part of last year's financial overhaul bill.
"I don't think the administration is interested in revisiting the issue. My assumption is that the in the Senate they ;'[Democratic leaders] will try to double down and defend and protect the health care and financial overhaul bills,'' he said in response to a question from Credit Union Times at a policy breakfast sponsored by the online and print publication Politico.
McConnell (R-Ky.) said the House, which is controlled by the Republicans, will likely try to make changes to the financial overhaul bill.
The interchange provision was first added during the Senate debate on the financial overhaul bill when that chamber adopted an amendment by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
He said that the presence of divided government doesn't preclude the possibility of substantive legislative accomplishments during this session of Congress and cited entitlement reform and reductions to the corporate tax rate are areas where the two parties could find common ground.
The Senate has a Democratic majority but the rules of that chamber give the GOP numerous opportunities to influence the outcome of legislation. There are 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and two independents who caucus with the Democrats.
McConnell said the Democrats' losses in November's elections forced President Obama to embrace more centrist policies and that will be more conducive to bipartisan cooperation.
He cited the extension of the Bush tax cuts during the lame duck session as an example of the two parties' ability to work together. He also noted that when President Obama signed the bill -a ceremony that wasn't attended by the Senate or House Democratic leaders--it was the first bill signing he had been to during the Obama administration.
"It was almost an out of body experience,'' he quipped.
But he said he is skeptical of President Obama's calls for more spending, and criticized a euphemism that is often used by Democrats to increase government expenditures.
"Investment is the Latin term for Washington spending,'' he noted.