If you’re a bit confused as to who is actually Senate Majority Leader, you have good reason.
It appears that despite having lost the position to Chuck Schumer once Democrats claimed a narrow majority in the Senate (51-50 thanks to Vice President Harris’ tie breaking vote), Mitch McConnell continues to call the shots in the chamber.
McConnell took aim at Democrats Tuesday to show that he continues to be the puppet king of the Senate and that Schumer’s title is ceremonial. During a press conference, the Kentucky senator came out against the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, dismissing it as unnecessary.
“It’s against the law to discriminate in voting on the basis of race,” McConnell said, happily pretending that the recently-passed voting law in Georgia is widely viewed as being targeted at minority voters, as is the Texas voting bill that nearly passed two weeks ago.
By coming out against the Lewis Act, McConnell all but assured the bill isn’t going anywhere. Why? Because the Minority Leader has the GOP members in lock-step with him and they will almost certainly follow his lead. A few might stray, as six Republicans did when they voted in favor of the Jan. 6 commission bill, but just as with that legislation, McConnell knows he has the numbers to back his play. And there’s nothing Chuck Schumer can do about it. Just like he couldn’t do anything when McConnell came out against the George Floyd Act over qualified police immunity, effectively derailing that bill.
But as bad as Schumer looks for once again appearing to be out-maneuvered by his longtime Senate frenemy, the person who looks the worst in this situation is West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. The biggest cheerleader for bipartisanship in Washington issued a very public statement over the weekend saying he opposed the more expansive HR1 voting rights bill. He did so because he felt the Lewis Act was more focused and was more likely to gain the support of the 10 Republicans needed to get Senate passage.
Good luck with that.
McConnell’s move today makes Manchin look, as Esquire wrote in a scathing Charles Pierce piece, “like a sucker. Again.”
Considering this is the same guy who not long ago said his and his party’s focus was 100% “on stopping this new administration,” McConnell’s obstructionism shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone…except Joe Manchin.
The seven-term Senator wasn’t done. He essentially mocked Schumer’s agenda for the Senate in June.
The American people expect a 50-50 Senate to spend its time finding common ground. Multiple times this year, we’ve come together to take bipartisan steps on serious issues.
But this month, that’s coming to a screeching halt. Senate Democrats' June agenda is designed to fail. pic.twitter.com/akbFIZaxR9
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) June 8, 2021
McConnell is also in prime position to kneecap Biden’s ambitious infrastructure bill.
The White House’s talks with a group led by Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito were officially declared dead in the water Tuesday. This happened after multiple reports that the GOP wasn’t bothering to even approach any kind of compromise on one of President Biden’s signature pieces of legislation — and despite the White House offering multiple concessions totaling a trillion dollars in cuts while the GOP only offered to go up $150 billion. McConnell is adamant, according to some reports, about not signing off on any infrastructure bill with a cost north of $300 billion, which of course the Biden Administration will never agree to.
As NBC News’ Sahil Kapur reported, no one should expect anything from McConnell on infrastructure except an attempt to block the President’s efforts.
Ben Nelson, the moderate former Democratic senator who was a key player in the ACA fight, tells me Biden shouldn’t trust McConnell on infrastructure.
Nelson says to expect of McConnell a “purely political calculation” to “thwart the president’s efforts.”https://t.co/9S8peEPcM1
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 3, 2021
So if all this seems strangely familiar, it’s because it is. The only thing that has changed from the previous six years is the title. But make no mistake, Mitch McConnell still holds all the cards in the Senate.