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McConnell touts benefits to Kentucky in spending package

Posted at 1:56 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 14:44:29-05

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is touting the benefits for Kentucky in the recent government spending bill signed into law last week.

McConnell said his Senate leadership position allows Kentucky to “punch above its weight,” and he had a direct hand in securing $400 million for a new veterans hospital in Louisville, $25 million to fight Asian carp in western Kentucky, and coal miner pension and health benefits.

"I was directly responsible — directly — responsible for these items," McConnell said in a news conference Monday in Louisville.

McConnell is running for a seventh term to the Senate in 2020. He mentioned a recent ad by Amy McGrath, considered his top Democrat opponent, who says McConnell over his long career “has turned Washington into something we all despise.” McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, has raised about $10 million so far in her Senate campaign.

McConnell said Monday that the ad suggests he “is all that's wrong with Washington.”

"So I have a question for her … in what way would Kentucky have been better off without any of these items that I put in the year-end spending bill?” McConnell asked.

A spokeswoman for McGrath said in a release Friday that “Kentuckians know he has failed them over and over again.”

“We know what to do with a politician who doesn’t care about us: Vote them out, just like we did to (former Kentucky Gov.) Matt Bevin,” McGrath campaign spokeswoman Jackie Thompson said. "Amy McGrath has Kentuckians’ backs and isn’t afraid to take down a man who cares more about keeping his seat than investing in our future.”

On the pending impeachment trial of of President Donald Trump, McConnell declined to comment beyond what he said in an interview Monday morning on Fox News.

He said in that interview that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is "apparently trying to tell us how to run the trial." McConnell said he is “not anxious to have this trial.”

The spending bill also included $25 million for addiction recovery housing in Kentucky, nationally raising the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, funding increases for cleanup at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and provisions to boost the hemp industry.

The benefits for coal miners, which McConnell introduced with West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, include pension security for 92,000 miners and health care benefits for 13,000 miners.