McConnell: We won't 'quit doing things just because there's an election'

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The Senate majority leader famously spent a year blocking Obama's Supreme Court nominee, citing the 2016 election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday defended his decision to bring up a bill that could help two vulnerable GOP colleagues, claiming it was not right to "stop governing during an election year."

McConnell reportedly agreed to send to the Great American Outdoors Act to the chamber in order to help two of the bill's leading supporters, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Steve Daines (R-MT), according to The Hill.

Both men are facing tough reelection races in November.

"Yeah, it's in proximity to the election," McConnell (R-KY) said. "But nobody says you oughta quit doing things just because there's an election. We have one every two years. There's always an election coming up."

The bill, a bipartisan piece of legislation which provides funds to restore national parks and public lands, is expected to pass this week.

Just four years ago, McConnell memorably mounted a historic, months-long effort to block Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee to fill Antonin Scalia's vacant seat on the Supreme Court, from getting a confirmation hearing or vote.

His justification at the time was that it was an election year.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president," he said in a February 2016 press statement, hours after Scalia's sudden death and nearly nine months before Election Day.

A month later, he falsely claimed that he and Senate Republicans were merely "following a longstanding tradition of not filling vacancies on the Supreme Court in the middle of a presidential election year."

Garland's nomination expired with the end of Obama's term and McConnell quickly moved to confirm Donald Trump's choice, Neil Gorsuch, to fill the vacancy in 2017.

A reporter asked McConnell on Tuesday whether the Great American Outdoors Act vote was an "election year gift" to his Republican colleagues.

McConnell, who previously vowed to block the more than 395 House-passed bills that are sitting on his desk, said that it was one of the rare bills that could pass both the Democratic House and his Republican Senate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.