To welcome the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell penned an op-ed for Fox News to claim that he and the Republicans in the Senate are in favor of bipartisanship, while the Democrats are not:
So make no mistake. The Senate has proven its ability to reach bipartisan solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation.
And looking ahead to the coming year, there will be no shortage of opportunities to continue this impressive record of cooperation across the aisle and across the Capitol.
What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?
Last week, the American people made it abundantly clear that they prefer that Congress focus on making a difference.
That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.
But however Democrats interpret the latest message from voters, Senate Republicans will continue our commitment to delivering results.
For anyone who has been paying attention to Mitch McConnell’s tenure as a Republican leader in the Senate, the hypocrisy exhibited here is absolutely breathtaking.
First assuming leadership as the Senate Minority leader in 2006, Mitch McConnell laid bare his partisan agenda in 2010 when he declared that his party’s top priority was not to help the country, but instead to deny President Obama a second term:
And his strategy never strayed from that directive. Mitch McConnell led a mission to obstruct each and everything President Obama attempted to accomplish. When McConnell was the Senate Minority Leader, he presided over a record number of Senate filibusters by his minority party, bringing the government to an effective halt, ensuring that no problems could be solved by a Congress that McConnell almost single-handedly ensured could not work together:
Opposition Republicans are using the delaying tactic at a record-setting pace.
“The numbers are astonishing in this Congress,” says Jim Riddlesperger, political science professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
The filibuster, using seemingly endless debate to block legislative action, has become entrenched like a dandelion tap root in the midst of the shrill partisanship gripping Washington.
McConnell strategized that the blame for the country’s unsolved problems would go toward Obama, while McConnell counted on the gerrymandered congressional districts and makeup of the Senate (Wyoming, which has 1/70th of the population of California gets the same amount of Senators) to allow his partisan agenda to remain unpunished by any electoral consequences.
Having helped wreck Congress and hinder any progress attempted by President Obama, Mitch McConnell next set his sights on obstructing the judicial branch:
Next Tuesday marks 125 days since President Barack Obama nominated D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland, an eminently qualified judge, to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Senate’s inaction on the Garland nomination is the longest a Supreme Court nominee has ever waited for a hearing or confirmation. When the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), reconvenes in September, the wait for a vote—let alone a hearing—will have grown to 176 days.
The blame for this unprecedented delay can largely be placed at the feet of Sen. McConnell. Under his leadership, the Senate has refused to do its job of offering advice and consent on the nominee. Moreover, by this and other actions—or more rightly put, inaction—Sen. McConnell has all but sealed his legacy as an obstructionist.
Since Sen. McConnell assumed the role of majority leader in January 2015, he has shown an unwillingness to make any sort of progress in the Senate, particularly in confirming federal judges. As a result, the number of U.S. District and Circuit court vacancies in the federal judiciary is growing. Vacancies under Sen. McConnell jumped from 40 when he took office in 2015 to 79 in late June 2016, a 97.5 percent increase. Federal courts face severe backlogs because of these vacancies. Plaintiffs alleging discrimination in the workplace must wait longer for their case to be heard; companies accused of violating environmental law go unpunished; and indigent criminal defendants are denied a speedy trial.
Mitch McConnell wasn’t just trying to ruin Obama’s Presidency, either. He also stuck his nose into the 2016 election, and ultimately helped Donald Trump, a mentally ill reality TV star, gain the Presidency by covering up the fact that Russia was influencing the election.
“The Dems were, ‘Hey, we have to tell the public,’ ” recalled one participant. But Republicans resisted, arguing that to warn the public that the election was under attack would further Russia’s aim of sapping confidence in the system.
… McConnell (R-Ky.) went further, officials said, voicing skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims.
After Trump was elected, Mitch McConnell than began enacting a legislative agenda that was completely partisan. He shut out Democrats while trying to pass a repeal of Obamacare. John McCain ended up voting no after giving a blistering speech on the Senate floor that was aimed squarely at Mitch McConnell and his rank partisanship in trying to repeal Obamacare through a budget reconciliation vote instead of through regular order, which would have meant including Democrats:
“Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seem likely, then let’s return to regular order.
“Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today.
“What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart. I don’t think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work. There’s greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.
Mitch McConnell was not deterred by the failure of his partisan tactics during the health care debate. He moved right along to a tax bill, where he again shut out Democrats in developing the bill, then rushed the tax bill to passage before the official estimates arrived on how much it would cost. It turned out to cost a lot:
The massive tax cuts signed into law in December, which Republicans said would pay for themselves, will balloon the U.S. deficit in years ahead, the Congressional Budget Office said on Monday, possibly hobbling President Donald Trump’s future agenda.
The deficit – the amount that Washington’s spending exceeds its revenues – will expand to $804 billion in fiscal 2018, which ends on Sept. 30, up from $665 billion in fiscal 2017, CBO said.
The national debt is on track to approach 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2028, said the nonpartisan CBO, which analyzes legislation for Congress.
“That amount is far greater than the debt in any year since just after World War II,” CBO said, adding that the debt is now about 77 percent of GDP, a measure of the size of the economy. The Republican tax legislation, passed by Congress without Democratic support, along with a recent bipartisan $1.3 trillion spending package, are expected to drive economic growth faster than initially expected, CBO said.
Real GDP will grow by 3.3 percent in 2018; 2.4 percent in 2019; and 1.8 percent in 2020, it said.
But those growth rates will not offset the deficits, which will “increase rapidly this year and over the next few years,” then stabilize, resulting in a projected cumulative deficit of $11.7 trillion for 2018-2027, CBO forecast.
After doing his best to ruin the country’s confidence in the Presidency and in the Congress, Mitch McConnell then tried to ruin the country’s confidence in the Supreme Court by forcing through a Supreme Court nomination on a party line basis (after removing the 60 vote requirement) for a judge whose history consists almost solely of being a partisan operative and who told the country of his partisan agenda on national TV.
The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh was the Republican party’s proclamation that bipartisanship is dead. The Judicial Branch was intended to be a separate and co-equal branch of government that did not hold loyalty to a political party or group of citizens, but rather held loyalty to the constitution. As such, purely political appointees have been frowned upon by both parties. The court has nevertheless become more and more polarized and political in recent decades. But, even with the increasing polarization, the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh took it all to another level. There have been conservative judges appointed. There have been liberal judges appointed. But Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment was different. He is viewed as a strictly Republican judge, a man who, before becoming a judge, worked on flashpoint partisan issues such as the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the Florida recount for the 2000 election, both times serving as a political tool for the Republican party, both times taking strictly partisan stances against the Democratic party. He was then nominated to be a judge by George W. Bush, only after working in the White House for George W. Bush, and his nomination was seen as a partisan battle even then, due to concerns over his impartiality. Then, during Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court showcased his partisan agenda as he railed against the left, the Clintons, etc during prepared remarks to the Judiciary Committee. Yet, Republicans in the Senate have shown no worry at all about either the partisan agenda of Brett Kavanaugh or even the appearance of a partisan agenda from Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, they have issued attack after attack against Democrats who have opposed the nomination for a host of very valid reasons.
With Brett Kavanaugh in place on the Supreme Court, Mitch McConnell than stood on stage with Donald Trump as he leveled bombastic charges against Democrats and lied over and over again to the people of Kentucky:
First, Trump lied about coal:
TRUMP: “We have ended the war on clean, beautiful coal. We’re putting our miners back to work like never before. They’re going back, back, back”
The truth: Only 1,900 new coal mining jobs have been created nationwide since Donald Trump became President, just 0.05% of total jobs created in that time. There are currently 52,000 coal mining jobs nationwide, which is 20,000 below four years ago, and 80,000 below thirty years ago (Source: BLS Data: All employees, thousands, coal mining, seasonally adjusted). Those numbers don’t even account yet for the coal mine that just shut down this month in West Virginia, resulting in hundreds of layoffs.
Next, Trump lied about steel:
TRUMP: “You see the comeback with steel? Everyone’s going back to work. The steel mills are opening up, U.S. Steel, Nucor. They’re all opening up their steel mills.”
The truth: U.S Steel is not opening up any steel mills.
Then, Trump lied about Kentucky’s economy:
TRUMP: “This state is doing so well. You have your lowest unemployment numbers in history. You have your best incomes in history.”
Next, Trump lied about Single Payer Healthcare:
TRUMP: “A majority of House Democrats have already signed up for socialist health care. By the way, it doesn’t work anywhere in the world. Just so you understand. It doesn’t work. It’s good if you don’t mind waiting like five weeks to see a doctor.”
The truth: The Commonwealth Fund Survey of 2016 showed healthcare systems in Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom all provided more timely access for either a doctor or specialist than in the United States.
Then, standing right next to Mitch McConnell, Trump lied about Medicare:
TRUMP: “Republicans want to protect Medicare, and we will, for our great seniors who have earned it and who have paid for it.”
The truth: Mitch McConnell is currently calling for cuts to Medicare.
Next, Trump lied about health care coverage protections for pre-existing conditions:
TRUMP: “Republicans only will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”
The truth: Republicans have voted 9 times to repeal the Obamacare mandate that prevents companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and their substitute plans either completely allow denial of coverage due to a pre-existing condition, or allow denial of service related to a pre-existing condition.
Then, Trump lied about how many women voted for him:
TRUMP: “I am so sorry, I apologize to the women in the room. Remember, I got 52 percent — remember, they kept saying, he’s not — the fake news — that’s right. Remember he said — they were all saying he will not do well with women? Wow, did we do well with women. Did we do well. Fake news. We did really well with women.”
The truth: 52% of women did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. 42% of women voted for him.
Next, Trump lied about Social Security:
TRUMP: “We, unlike the Democrats, will protect Medicare and protect Social Security.”
The truth: Mitch McConnell is currently calling for cuts to both Medicare and Social Security.
Mitch McConnell has been nodding approvingly while Donald Trump spouts lie after lie and attacks Democrats unrelentingly, and after another bipartisan push was put forth to protect the Mueller investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 elections, Mitch McConnell refused to bring the bipartisan legislation up for a vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday suggested he would not allow a floor vote on legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference and alleged collusion by the Trump campaign.
“It’s not necessary. The Mueller investigation is not under threat,” McConnell told reporters.
This is not the first time Trump or allies of Trump have come close to taking action to derail the Mueller investigation, nor is it the first time Democrats have urged the Senate to vote on a bill to pass legislation to protect the Mueller investigation.
Yet, a vote has never taken place on this bill, because Mitch McConnell has repeatedly refused to put the bill up for a vote, even though members of both parties have urged him to allow a vote.
On November 3, 2017, three Republican allies of Trump in Congress called upon Robert Mueller to resign, and Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly indicated tacit support for their reasoning:
Representatives Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs and Louis Gohmert accused Mueller of a conflict of interest because he was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation when former President Barack Obama’s administration approved an agreement allowing a Russian company to buy a Canadian company that owned 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies.
President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans have been calling for an investigation into the Uranium One deal, amid news of Mueller’s first indictments of Trump associates as the special counsel investigates allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
On Monday, the day the indictments became public, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said a special counsel should be appointed to investigate Democrats over the uranium deal.
The very next day, Mitch McConnell refused to support voting on a bill to protect the Mueller investigation:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday that special counsel Robert Mueller is not in need of congressional protection from President Donald Trump.
“I don’t hear much pressure to pass anything,” McConnell told MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt. “There’s been no indication that the President or the White House are not cooperating with the special counsel.”
Two months later, on January 25, 2018, a report came out that Donald Trump had ordered the White House Counsel Don McGahn (since fired by Trump for cooperating with Robert Mueller) to fire Robert Mueller:
The reports, first by the Times and then others, said Trump backed off on his attempt to fire the man who is investigating him, his election campaign’s Russian contacts and his firings of FBI Director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — but only after lawyer McGahn refused to relay his directive to the Justice Department and threatened to quit if Trump pressed the issue.
Five days later, after renewed calls from Democrats for Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on the bill to protect the Mueller investigation, Mitch McConnell again refused:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday dismissed Democratic calls to take up bipartisan legislation aimed at shielding Robert Mueller from being fired, saying that the special counsel “seems to need no protection.”
McConnell told reporters that he sees no imminent threat to Mueller’s job from President Donald Trump, who has publicly aired frustration with the special counsel’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion with Trump campaign allies. Senators have pitched two bipartisan bills designed to prevent Mueller’s firing by Trump, but efforts to combine them have stalled as the GOP professes a continued lack of urgency.
At the moment, McConnell told reporters, “I’m unaware of any effort, official effort, on the part of the White House to undermine the special counsel. And so I don’t feel any particular need to reach out to protect someone who seems to need no protection.”
On April 10, 2018, news came out that Trump had again tried to fire Robert Mueller the preceding December:
Trump reportedly tried to fire Mueller after he became enraged over reports that the special counsel had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for records on Trump’s finances.
A week later, Mitch McConnell again refused to bring the bill to protect the Mueller investigation up for a vote, even after two Republican Senators had signed onto the bill:
Sens. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which protects Mueller, including ensure that the special counsel can only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official.
McConnell said he won’t bring the legislation to the Senate floor.
“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate,” he said.
For Mitch McConnell to now come out and claim that he has been working in a bipartisan fashion is an insult to every American’s intelligence. And for Mitch McConnell to criticize Democrats for partisanship is so hypocritical it defies description.