If there’s one thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it’s that Mitch McConnell must GO. Americans are frustrated. They need forward progress on legislation that matters to them, including coronavirus relief. As Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell gets to choose which bills are put on the Senate calendar for debate and vote. But Mitch is Congress’s Kingpin of Obstruction. Bills passed by the House of Representatives have been sent to the Senate—and died on Mitch’s desk because he refused to bring them up for vote.
Not a few. Not dozens. We’re talking hundreds. Hundreds of bills that received (at least some) bipartisan support that would improve the health, welfare, and economics of everyday Americans. Dead. And McConnell has no qualms about it.
Remember learning in grade school that one house passes a bill and the other debates, makes changes, and passes it? Not so under McConnell’s rule. He’s the Grim Reaper of democracy. In fact, he chose the moniker Grim Reaper to describe himself. So, even though McConnell’s campaign ads boast of his work to pass the CARES coronavirus bill, he stonewalled the recent HEROES Act—for months. Americans wanted Trump to drain the swamp—
Mitch IS the swamp.
How did one man get so much power?
McConnell has been in the Senate for 36 years. But since 2003, he has moved from Majority Whip to Minority Leader and now Majority Leader. Over his tenure, he learned how to wield power over other senators, and he doesn’t hesitate to use it. If Republican Senators challenge McConnell or vote against his will, they can expect to be punished by, for example, revoking their capitol dining room or gym privileges, canceling diplomatic missions, sabotaging campaign fundraising efforts, or dismissing them from select committees. And so, GOP senators are disinclined to challenge Mitch’s power.
How the GOP became the Party of NO
In the early days of President Obama’s term, McConnell was included in covert party meetings where the plan was hatched to undermine Obama’s presidency through one simple mandate: Just say NO. No to negotiation, No to compromise, No to cooperation. And they did. When Democratic senators offered to negotiate legislation, Republican senators remarked that they were instructed by McConnell not to cooperate. Former Republican Senator George Voinovich remarked, “If [Obama] was for it...we had to be against it.” Democratic Senator Joe Biden recalled, “The way it was characterized to me was, ‘For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything.’”
Let that sink in for a moment. McConnell’s goal was not to do what was best for Kentuckians nor Americans—it was to see Obama fail, to get his way, to win. Never mind that if any president fails, the country suffers for it. And you don’t have to look far to see McConnell’s focus on winning—just listen to him talk. In a 2019 interview with NPR’s Kelly McEvers, McConnell remarked, “I think the best way to judge Mitch McConnell is how do the elections come out. I'm 9-0.”
McConnell’s war on Democrats has only intensified. His rationale is that he’s not willing to entertain any legislation proposed or passed by a Democrat-controlled House. If the press questions McConnell about not getting anything done, he blames Democrats, essentially accusing the opposition of sins which are his own. In 2019, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy remarked that McConnell had “effectively turned the United States Senate into a very expensive lunch club that occasionally votes on a judge or two.” In fact, it’s so infrequent that the Senate votes on a bill that in 2019 reporter Niels Lesniewski tweeted an announcement when the Senate took up the pressing bipartisan bill to tack on heavy penalties for robocalls. Seriously?
What died on Mitch’s desk?
There is legislation:
- To increase access to healthcare, health insurance, and lower-cost prescription drugs.
- To raise the minimum wage and close the gender pay gap.
- To protect consumers and college students from deceptive banking practices and predatory and discriminatory lending.
- To address barriers to seniors’ funding their retirement.
- To address a large number of foreign, military, and veteran affairs, including terrorism, tax relief for Gold-Star Families, and child care.
- To secure elections from foreign interference.
- To address net neutrality by reclassifying the Internet as a public utility; improving access, cost, and speed; and providing funding to reduce the digital divide (which gained visibility during the pandemic).
- To address pandemic preparedness.
- To address violence against women and children.
- To condemn discrimination based on religious affiliation.
- To protect LGBTQ people in housing, employment, public accommodations, and the military.
- To address tribal sovereignty.
- To build a path to citizenship for Dreamers, children of undocumented residents.
- To address gun control—which the vast majority of Americans supports—with background checks and other measures.
- To address the environment and climate change and its effects by providing funding for resource management; addressing water and air pollution—which directly impact public health; and investing in sustainable-energy infrastructure, which creates jobs.
- To tackle corruption in government through the For the People Act, which addresses voting rights, ends partisan gerrymandering, curbs the influence of big money in campaigns, and strengthens ethics laws for federal officials. In other words, it would help drain the swamp—which conflicts with McConnell’s political interests.
And this is only a small fraction of the legislation that could have made a life-changing impact on the lives of you and others you care about.
Republicans are not a homogenous group, with all of them feeling the same way on any one issue. Yet McConnell expects fellow senators to vote the way HE wants, disregarding the needs of not only THEIR constituents but his own.
As for 2021 and beyond, McConnell has ZERO plans to change his modus operandi. He told guests at a 2019 fundraiser that “If I'm still the majority leader of the Senate after next year, none of those things are going to pass the Senate. They won't even be voted on.”
So let me ask you: Does that sound like the words and actions of a man who cares more about the lives of Kentuckians—or his party and his donors? Are we more united or divided under Mitch’s brand of partisan politicking, and are we Kentuckians better off?
When I tell fellow Kentuckians about McConnell’s legislative graveyard, they always ask, How could this happen? It’s simple, really: TRUST. We elect leaders and trust that we can relax while they do their job, fighting for our interests.
When we weren’t looking, McConnell abused our trust.
And for that, he must go.
Need a refresher course? Re-learn the Legislative Process:
We absolutely must get the word out to our friends, families, neighbors—and tell them to VOTE like their lives depend on it. Also, write Letters to Editors. Click the ACT button to see a list of the top Kentucky newspapers: