Mitch McConnell distances GOP from Rick Scott’s ‘sunset’ plan in continuing friction

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is putting plenty of distance between his GOP caucus and a plan from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida that would allow all federal programs to sunset after five years.

The plan released by Mr. Scott, a Republican, last year became a punching bag for Democrats who say it would put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block.

“Unfortunately, that was the Scott plan, that’s not a Republican plan,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told radio host Terry Meiners on his self-titled podcast.

The comments underscored a rift between the GOP leader and Mr. Scott, who unsuccessfully tried to oust Mr. McConnell as the Senate Republican leader.

The GOP leader heaped criticism on Mr. Scott after President Biden hammered the Floridian in his State of the Union address and again on Thursday during a trip to Tampa.

“Republicans seemed shocked when I took out the pamphlets they were using about cutting Medicare and Social Security — read from, you know, Senator Scott’s proposal,” Mr. Biden said Thursday.

Like Mr. McConnell, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has insisted that Social Security and Medicare will not be cut as part of ongoing negotiations over raising the debt limit.

“The Republican plan — as I pointed out last fall — if we were to become the majority, there are no plans to raise taxes on half the American people or to sunset Medicare or Social Security,” Mr. McConnell said on the podcast. “So, it’s clearly the Rick Scott plan, it is not the Republican plan, and that’s the view of the speaker of the House as well.”

Mr. McConnell seemed to agree with Mr. Biden’s assessment that the proposal wouldn’t go over well in Florida.

“I think it will be a challenge to deal with this in his own reelection in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any other state in America,” Mr. McConnell said.

Mr. McConnell recently removed Mr. Scott from the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, a move seen as retribution for challenging his leadership post.

Mr. Scott has signaled he won’t back down from challenging GOP leadership and pushed back at Mr. Biden this week.

“Nobody believes that I want to cut Medicare or Social Security,” Mr. Scott told CNN.

He also released a television ad calling on Mr. Biden to resign.

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