Mitch McConnell couldn’t even go a few hours into this week’s Senate session without selling out conservatives and granting Harry Reid a supermajority. He delivered more than half of the GOP conference into the hands of Democrats, enabling them to gain leverage over the GOP-controlled House and pass the IMF deform package [read more here on the IMF package].
We’ve witnessed this dynamic throughout the past few years. Ideally, Republicans should have more leverage than Democrats because they fully control the House, while Democrats lack a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. As such, McConnell’s job is to block bad legislation in the Senate, enabling the House to jam Democrats with the only viable alternative. Yet, with issue after issue, we have witnessed the opposite dynamic. McConnell hands Reid the requisite 60+ votes and allows him to jam the House.
What is even more egregious about this capitulation is that the Ukraine bill is not a must-pass bill, even according to the political class. It’s not like this is a government-funding bill. It’s a relatively small loan package to a foreign country, along with weak sanctions against Putin. To being with, they should have passed a more robust bill – one that opens up LNG exports and repeals ratification of new START. Now that Democrats tacked on the extraneous provision to double our contribution to the IMF while weakening our power within the body, McConnell should have blocked the bill.
Moreover, House Republicans are prepared to pass a clean Ukrainian aid bill sans the IMF bailout provision. It would have been quite clear that Democrats were the ones obstructing this bill in the hopes of adding on a non-germane policy change. Instead, the Senate Democrats has gained the upper-hand and can boast a robust bipartisan majority for their bill.
When McConnell can’t even side with Speaker Boehner you know things have really gone downhill with the man who wants to be majority leader.
Then again, as we noted last week, McConnell is a big fan of bailing out the IMF.
The cloture vote on motion to proceed passed with just 17 Republicans voting no. Now Democrats know that all they need to do is tack on bad policy to a bill the GOP deems as must-pass, and they will fall for it. Contrast that to Republicans who are too scared to return the favor on must-pass legislation for Democrats. Furthermore, this is yet another gratuitous gesture to the party that has blown up the filibuster on nominees and has violated the rights of the minority.
If Mitch McConnell aspires to be majority leader, he should first demonstrate that he can serve as an effective minority leader.