Last month, Sen. Mitch McConnell said he was 100% focused on stopping President Joe Biden's agenda.
Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he and his caucus were 100% focused on stopping President Joe Biden's agenda. This week, he complained that the Democratic majority was not being bipartisan enough.
"As you look to what the majority leader has in mind for June, it's pretty clear the era of bipartisanship is over," the Kentucky Republican said on Tuesday, noting that the Senate has passed as many as six bills "on a bipartisan basis" in the first half of 2021. "I think that's coming to a screeching halt."
McConnell was reacting to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's plans to hold votes on the For the People Act, a popular bill intended to fix American democracy and protect voting rights) and possibly bring up other bills with strong public support but opposed by Republican lawmakers, such as the Equality Act and legislation on background checks for gun sales.
But while the Senate has passed a few bills this year with some GOP support, there has hardly been an "era of bipartisanship."
In the last Congress, McConnell — then the Senate majority leader — blocked hundreds of pieces of legislation that passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives without letting them come up for a vote. "We're not gonna pass those," he vowed, proclaiming himself the "Grim Reaper" of anything Democrats tried to accomplish.
Instead, McConnell spent most of the Senate's time ramming through Trump's judicial nominations and other appointees, often on a partisan basis.
After Democrats gained a narrow majority in the Senate in the 2020 general election, McConnell threatened to use the filibuster to stop it from even organizing itself unless they agreed to preserve his right to obstruct legislation in the future. This meant Biden had to wait weeks before most of his Cabinet picks got a confirmation vote.
He and his caucus then unanimously opposed Biden's American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion package that provided $1,400 emergency relief checks to most Americans and invested billions in addressing the pandemic and its economic impacts. They delayed its passage with procedural stunts, including forcing Senate clerks to read the entire bill aloud for hours and introducing a long stream of amendments designed to waste time.
On May 28, McConnell and 43 GOP colleagues stopped the Senate from even debating a House-passed bipartisan proposal to create an independent commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. "I do not believe the additional, extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts, or promote healing," he argued.
On Tuesday, McConnell and every other Senate Republican successfully blocked consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would combat pay discrimination and reduce the pay gap between women and men. Pay equity has also long enjoyed strong popular support but strong congressional GOP resistance.
As Congress prepares to consider Biden's widely popular plans to invest in infrastructure with the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, McConnell has vowed unanimous Republican opposition to those bills as well.
In May 5 remarks, McConnell made clear that he had no intention of working with the Democratic majority or the Biden administration to pass the agenda the majority of Americans voted for in November: "One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration. We're confronted with severe challenges from a new administration, and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that's 100 percent of my focus."
A Monmouth University poll in January found that 71% of American adults wanted congressional Republicans to work with the new administration, while just 25% wanted them to "keep Biden in check."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.