McConnell blames impeachment for the 400 bills he blocked

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate into a legislative graveyard.

Of the more than 500 bills that have passed out of the House of Representatives this year, just 66 have also emerged from the GOP-controlled Senate.

Now, the man responsible for blocking action on more than 400 pieces of legislation is pointing the finger at House Democrats and the impeachment inquiry for impeding the law-making process.

In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell complained that bills he believes are important have not been enacted yet due to the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

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"There are things we have to do that we are not making any progress on because of the impeachment obsession over in the House," McConnell said. "We've yet to reach a deal on spending and defense appropriations."

McConnell argued that his priorities were uniquely essential.

"These are things we must do," he argued. "There are plenty of optional things that aren't being done because we can't philosophically agree on them. But government spending, the defense bill we've passed every year since 1961, the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada sitting there, un-acted upon. Really this is outrageous, [it] needs to come to a stop."

The Senate Republican majority has spent most of the past year avoiding legislation, focusing almost exclusively on confirming Donald Trump's judicial nominees and executive branch appointments.

"Three times a week the Senate Republicans meet for lunch. … And occasionally they walk into that chamber and take a vote or two or three on judges. That is the sum total of the Senate’s work today," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) observed in April.

Murphy said McConnell "has effectively turned the United States Senate into a very expensive lunch club."

In June, even several Senate Republicans criticized the lack of legislative progress.

"It is frustrating," Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) told Politico at the time. Ernst said the chamber was still trying to work "on a number of really good bills" regardless.

In the past year, the House has passed legislation to raise the minimum wage, lower the cost of prescription drugs, protect LGBTQ Americans from employment discrimination, keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, protect the climate, and fight political corruption.

McConnell, meanwhile, has bragged about being the Senate's "Grim Reaper" who kills all progressive legislation.

Trump has also made bipartisan compromise virtually impossible. In May, he walked out of bipartisan negotiations to repair roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, vowing not to address the problem until Congress stopped investigating him.

One of the biggest sticking points in the spending and defense negotiations stems from Trump's decision to siphon $3.6 billion appropriated for military projects to pay for his long-promised border wall — which he repeatedly vowed would be funded by Mexico — and his reported desire to do the same thing again next year. Funding for Trump's wall has been a major point of dispute for the entire Trump presidency and has little to do with the impeachment process.

McConnell closed his remarks on Tuesday by saying, "I heard a lot of Democrats in the House say they could walk and chew gum at the same time. Now is the time to prove it."

On Tuesday, the House passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open through Dec. 20.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.