Is Mitch McConnell doing a good job? | The Tylt
Amid the longest-running government shutdown in U.S. history, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared totally absent. He abstained from speaking engagements and refused to allow funding bills to reach the floor of the Senate for debate and vote. Many feel the longtime lawmaker is hurting the nation with his intransigence. Others say he is protecting the Republican Party. What do you think?
Is Mitch McConnell doing a good job?
McConnell has been deferring completely to the president on the shutdown. While bills have passed through the House that would allow the government to re-open, they do not have support from the president—something McConnell requires of any bil before reaching the floor of the Senate. Per the New York Times Magazine:
“He’s been very quiet,” Dick Durbin, the Democratic minority whip, who was in recent shutdown-negotiation meetings with McConnell and the Democratic Senate leadership, told me that afternoon, “and has said repeatedly that he’s not going to call any bill that the president doesn’t approve of. And that has basically been the sum and substance of his contribution.”
As of January 23, the Hill reports McConnell blocked four bills that would fund the government while debates over the wall continued.
Democrats have been coming to the floor on a near-daily basis while the Senate is in session to try to bring up the House package, even though the GOP leader has said he will not allow them to come to the Senate floor.
Under Senate rules any one senator can try to pass a bill, but any one senator can also object.
Not only did the shutdown occur on McConnell's watch, he refused to allow Senators to debate bills in good faith.
Some note McConnell routinely makes political calculations he believes will result in the best solution to any crisis. During the shutdown, he refused to bring bills to the floor he knew would fail.
McConnell changed his tactic in late January, allowing both Democrats and Republicans to bring bills to the Senate floor for a vote. Jim Manley, who worked for former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, told Vox he believed McConnell was planning for both bills to fail, giving him more leverage to broker a compromise.
“It looks to me like he’s taken a playbook out of previous House leaders like Boehner and Ryan, calling for a vote knowing that both are going to fail to show everyone involved that the votes aren’t there and we need another plan,” says Manley of the Thursday votes.
While McConnell's perceived lack of movement on the shutdown frustrated critics, his absence successfully protected Senate Republicans from blame.
As Majority Leader, McConnell is responsible for maintaining the power of his party. By staying to the sidelines and allowing Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to battle President Trump, he staved off any criticism. Per NBC News:
Because viewed from a purely political perspective, McConnell's approach has been a resounding success — at least, so far: only 5 percent of registered voters surveyed in a Politico/Morning Consult poll this month blamed congressional Republicans for the shutdown while 47 percent blame Trump and 33 percent blamed Democrats.While shutdowns hurt the government, McConnell's actions could save Republicans from retribution in the polls in 2020.