- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 2, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “very confident” Republicans and Democrats in Congress can work together to pass a budget before a government shutdown.

“Yeah, I’m very confident,” Mr. McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The two appropriations committees are working on the bills on a bipartisan basis. We’ll be talking to Senate Democrats. They will be relevant to this process. This will require 60 votes. I’m confident Senate Democrats are not going to want to shut down the government.”

Congress must pass legislation funding the government by April 28 to avoid a shutdown. Some points of contention include $1.5 billion in funding to begin construction on a border wall, increased defense spending and defunding Planned Parenthood.

Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said he does not anticipate any of those disagreements leading to a “catastrophic event.”

“Look, we’re going to negotiate all of those items in the context of those funding bills, which will fund the government through Sept. 30,” he said. “We’ll be debating these issues again for next year’s appropriations, which start Oct. 1. But we’ll be able to work all that out.”

Mr. McConnell said Democrats often accused Republicans of trying to shut down the government, and would be wise to avoid the label.

“They used to use that against us all the time, and I think it worked pretty effectively for them,” he said. “I can’t imagine they would want to acquire the ‘government shutdown’ label.”

He also encouraged President Trump not to worry about being blamed in the event of a shutdown, saying it will only reflect poorly on the legislature.

“I think the Senate Democrats know every time we’ve had a government shutdown situation, it’s been the Congress that’s been blamed and not the president,” he said. “So I would advise President Trump don’t worry about them sticking that label on you. Congress owns the government shutdown brand.”

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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