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Mitch McConnell demands Democrats let him block everything — even if GOP loses the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is eager to be the ‘grim reaper’ of popular legislation even if he’s no longer in charge.

By Dan Desai Martin - August 22, 2019
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Fearing Republicans could lose the Senate in 2020, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is already demanding Democrats allow him to obstruct their agenda when they come to power.

In a Thursday op-ed in the New York Times, McConnell makes a cynical plea that a new Democratic majority should refrain from ending the Senate filibuster, which requires most legislation to garner a 60-vote majority to pass.

“I recognize it may seem odd that a Senate majority leader opposes a proposal to increase his own power,” McConnell writes, though his plea would, of course, only be applicable if he is no longer the majority leader. But McConnell’s argument ignores the fact that he manipulated, changed, or simply ignored Senate rules and tradition to increase his own power once he became majority leader after the 2014 election.

McConnell flagrantly ignored both rules and tradition to steal a Supreme Court seat from President Obama in 2016 — a maneuver he continues to brag about as one of the most important decisions of his career. He then ended the Senate filibuster on Supreme Court nominees to install Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch on the bench.

In his zeal to pack the federal courts with as many unqualified far-right judges as possible, McConnell and his fellow Republicans abandoned a long-standing Senate tradition of requiring federal judges to have the support of their home-state senators.

While McConnell regularly boasts about the number of judges he has packed onto the courts, he blames Democrats for provoking him. By changing a rule in 2013 to stop McConnell’s unprecedented blockade of President Obama’s judicial nominees, Democrats put into motion further rule changes he implemented, according to McConnell.

“So this is the legacy of the procedural avalanche Democrats set off: Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and 43 new lifetime circuit judges — the most ever at this point in a presidency. The consequences of taking Senator Reid’s advice will haunt liberals for decades,” McConnell writes.

But McConnell’s refusal to even hold a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, keeping that Supreme Court seat vacant until Trump came to power, had nothing to do with the filibuster or any other rules; it was simply an act of unprecedented obstruction.

When it came to the other judges nominated by Trump for lifetime appointments, McConnell changed the rules to be able to ram through those dozens of radical judges as quickly as possible.

Now McConnell is arguing that if Democrats once again take control of the Senate, they should not exercise the same power to push through their own agenda.

Meanwhile, if the GOP does keep control of the Senate, McConnell has already vowed to be a “grim reaper” and block progressive legislation, even if Democrats keep the House and take back the White House.

He’s already doing this now. He has refused to hold votes on gun safety, immigration reform, prescription drug prices, voting rights, and protecting elections from Russian influence.

In 2018, Republicans lost their absolute grip on power in Washington when Democrats took the House of Representatives. Trump — a habitual liar, blatant racist, and a criminal — is extremely unpopular, and his unpopularity could cost Republicans not only the White House but control of the Senate as well.

But if McConnell’s Senate colleagues face the same type of blue wave that washed Republicans out of power in the House, he wants to retain veto power over the Senate’s legislative agenda. He’s already arguing that Democrats should respect the rules, traditions, and principles of the Senate that McConnell has blatantly ignored.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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