WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday criticized one of his own Republican members, Sen. Rick Scott, over the Florida senator’s proposal to sunset all federal legislation in five years — an issue President Joe Biden skewered the GOP over in his State of the Union speech.
“That’s not a Republican plan. That was the Rick Scott plan,” McConnell said in an interview with host Terry Meiners on a Kentucky radio station.
McConnell reiterated the point he made last year: “There were no plans to raise taxes on half the American people or to sunset Medicare or Social Security.”
The GOP Senate leader also said that both he and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have said that Social Security and Medicare “are not to be touched.”
“I think we’re in a more authoritative position to state what the position of the party is than any single senator,” McConnell continued. “It’s just a bad idea. I think it will be a challenge for him [Scott] to deal with this in his own re-election in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any other state in America.”
The intensifying feud between the two GOP senators came after Biden challenged Republicans to oppose cuts to entitlement programs during his State of the Union address Tuesday. He called out GOP lawmakers, including Scott, who have previously voiced support for such plans in Wisconsin on Wednesday and in Florida on Thursday.
The 12-point plan he unveiled last year as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee says: “All federal legislation sunsets every five years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.”
Scott, who’s running for re-election next year, has said Biden is mischaracterizing his proposal. During an event Friday with community leaders and older adults in Sun City Center, Florida, Scott accused McConnell of “backing up Biden.”
“Well, you know, he’s always sort of backed up Biden,” Scott said of McConnell at the event focused on preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare. “So, this is what he’s doing. He’s backing up Biden again. He doesn’t believe that we ought to have a plan.”
Later Friday, Scott announced legislation aimed at preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare, while insisting he had never backed cuts to either program. Scott said his bill would rescind funding for the IRS to hire some 87,000 people over the next decade and redirect that money to Medicare and Social Security.
Frank Thorp V and Zoë Richards contributed.