National Democrats say Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership is hurting Kentucky families and workers with his use of the filibuster.
Just this week senators were able to broker a deal on President Obama’s nominations to avoid the “nuclear option” being pushed by Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who dubbed McConnell the “guardian of gridlock” recently.
A review of the 60-vote threshold used by minority leaders since 1988 does show McConnell’s tenure has seen a record-breaking use of the tactic, which senators hope to avoid since Reid’s successful threat.
In light of those successful negotiations, however, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is continuing to blast McConnell’s senatorial maneuvering, particular on economic measures.
Democrats argue the GOP leader has blocked key legislation providing incentives for businesses who don’t offshore, increasing the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance.
“Time and again Mitch McConnell has turned his back on Kentucky workers and chosen to engage in partisan political gridlock,” says DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky. “Kentucky workers deserve better than a Senator who is so thoroughly wedded to special interests that he forgets to fight for his state. Mitch McConnell even voted to block an extension on unemployment insurance during the economic crisis. It’s clear that after nearly 30 years in Washington he isn’t just part of the problem he’s the main source of it.”
Beyond the campaigning, Democratic lawmakers are also using the filibuster deal as an opportunity to show a split in the GOP caucus and its leadership. Many took the “nuclear option” deal as a way to praise Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona for being an integral part of the negotiations over McConnell.
Under the agreement to avoid the nuclear option, votes on five Obama nominees are being allowed to move forward, including a labor secretary candidate whom McConnell fiercely objected to earlier this year.
But for McConnell the terms of the negotiations were favorable overall considering his chief objections were about two of the president’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, which a federal court ruled were unconstitutional.
Last month, McConnell reiterated to Vice President Joe Biden that the administration should send over two new names to replace the ones who were ultimately sacrificed in the new agreement between Democrats and Republicans.
“There’s an awful lot of campaigning on both sides of this about who wins and who loses. The bottom line is the filibuster is still in place,” a senior McConnell aide told WFPL. “The Senate hasn’t changed its rules and the place isn’t fundamentally altered.”
And the credit being given to McCain by Democrats as a way to further cast McConnell as the embodiment of obstruction doesn’t appear to bother Kentucky’s senior senator either.
“He’s made an entire career out of not being a show horse. McConnell is a work horse at his core, and there’s a lot of ways to get accomplished what you want to get accomplished, and who gets the credit for it is not exactly his first priority,” says the McConnell staffer.
But Democrats appear committed to spotlighting McConnell’s leadership style and votes to block the president’s economic agenda, noting that he voted against the nomination of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just this week.