GOP's Scott name-checks McConnell, Biden as he amends 'sunset' plan to exempt Social Security

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(WASHINGTON) — The battle between Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott continued Friday as Scott updated his much-criticized plan — calling for all federal programs to “sunset in five years” unless there’s a vote to renew them — to pointedly exempt Social Security and Medicare.

As he did so, Scott, the former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, name-checked McConnell as well as President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who have used it to attack Republicans.

“All federal legislation sunsets in 5 years, with specific exceptions of Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans benefits, and other essential services. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again. Note to President Biden, Sen. Schumer, and Sen. McConnell — As you know, this was never intended to apply to Social Security, Medicare, or the US Navy,” Scott’s website was updated to say.

The change in language comes as Scott and McConnell have become increasingly at odds after Scott challenged McConnell for party leadership late last year. His bid to unseat McConnell failed during a closed-door vote of Senate Republicans.

Scott first introduced his plan in February 2022 without the approval of party leadership. At the time, McConnell distanced himself from it, and he’s continued to scorch Scott’s proposal ever since, especially as Democrats — including most recently Biden — have used it to score political points.

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McConnell recently came out even more forcefully against Scott’s plan following repeated efforts by the Biden White House to highlight it. McConnell told a Kentucky radio host last week that a proposal to sunset federal legislation after five years — including Social Security – would be “just a bad idea.”

“I think it will be a challenge for him to deal with this in his own reelection in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any state in America,” McConnell said. “It is clearly the Rick Scott plan. It is not the Republican plan. And that’s the view of the speaker of the House as well.”

While House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said cuts to Social Security are “off the table,” in the debt limit standoff, it hasn’t stopped Democrats from using Scott’s plan to contrast themselves from Republicans as the debate over raising the debt limit and spending cuts heats up.

Biden highlighted Scott’s plan during his State of the Union Address earlier this month.

“Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years,” Biden said during the speech. “That means if Congress doesn’t vote to keep them, those programs will go away.”

The comments effectively baited Republicans, who shouted across the chamber that Biden was lying about their intentions, leading Biden to take advantage by concluding, “So, folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?”

Biden also referenced Scott’s plan in subsequent appearances following the address, holding up brochures and print outs of Scott’s plan at appearances in Wisconsin and Scott’s home state of Florida.

“Look, a lot of Republicans, their dream is to cut Social Security and Medicare. Well, let me just say this …. My veto pen [will] make it a nightmare,” he told the union crowd in DeForest, Wisconsin.

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