Mitch McConnell Using Same Leadership Tactics As Harry Reid

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So, looks like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wasn’t too far off last week when he accused Republican and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) of being the same as Democrat Harry Reid (D-Nevada), when he held the position.

On Friday, Cruz accused McConnell of lying about whether he made a deal to have the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank attached to a highway legislation that senators must pass.

The Export-Import Bank, which McConnell says in public he opposes, is viewed by many conservatives as corporate welfare and crony capitalism at its worst. While it is supposed to help small businesses compete in global markets, the bank favors large, and even foreign, companies with taxpayer dollars. Authorization for the bank expired in June, and a huge and expansive lobbying effort has been underway to reauthorize it.

This past weekend, during a rare Sunday session that was called to handle the Highway Bill, which had bipartisan support, we got to see just how much McConnell really is like Reid.

Sunday’s session opened with one thing – a warning.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sternly said the following, in a lengthy speech, no doubt aimed squarely at Cruz:

The chair reminds all senators of the following paragraph from Rule 19 of the Standing Rules of the Senate … ‘No senator in debate shall directly or indirectly by any form of words impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.’

We treat each other with honor, even when we feel another has perhaps not accorded us the same esteem. Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated on the campaign trail but not (in) here.

Cruz thanked Hatch for his speech, but also said he was merely being honest in his remarks about McConnell and the Ex-Im bank on Friday.

Cruz said on the Senate floor, “I would note that it is entirely consistent with decorum and with the nature of this body traditionally as the world’s greatest deliberative body to speak the truth.”

He said that McConnell, Hatch, and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), didn’t dispute his claim about the Ex-Im bank in their remarks.

McConnell then used his power to block Kate’s Law, the law that would keep illegal alien criminals off the streets, and defunding Planned Parenthood, after their disastrous baby parts selling video debacle over the past few weeks, and prioritized two other bills, one which would revive the Export-Import Bank, and another to repeal Obamacare. Both had a 60 vote threshold.

McConnell used a procedure known as “Filling the Tree,” which allows the number of amendments to a bill to be limited by the majority leader, who controls the process, crowding everyone else out. It was used often by Democrat Reid to block Republicans from being able to offer amendments to Democratic bills.

Despite the fact that McConnell ran, and was reelected to his seat, based on returning the Senate to regular order, after being tightly controlled by the Democrats for years, now he is using the same tactic against his own party. He decided last week that he would only allow two amendments to the bill – a repeal of Obamacare (which he knew wouldn’t pass) and the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization – while blocking all others.

On Friday Cruz blasted the leader by saying, “There are hosts of amendments that the American people are focused on, things like defunding Planned Parenthood after the gruesome video. The majority leader doesn’t want to vote on that. That’s actually something the American people are focused on.”

Cruz and other conservatives say the Export-Import Bank amendment, amounts to corporate welfare, however the Senate voted 67-26 to attach a renewal of the bank charter to the Highway Bill, which had to pass. McConnell has been saying he would force a vote on the Export-Import Bank for weeks, both publicly and privately.

The Obamacare defunding effort, which McConnell allowed in an effort to placate conservatives, failed to pass on party lines, 49-43. But, surely, McConnell knew that would happen before allowing it anyway. It needed 60 votes to pass, an unlikely scenario, and it would most certainly have caused the bill to get a presidential veto had it passed.

During Sunday’s session, McConnell blocked an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood, even though he previously said he wanted to defund the organization. He did agree to fast track a separate bill to defund Planned Parenthood, however he knows that would make it subject to filibuster by Democrats. 60 votes are needed to break a filibuster, and the GOP knows it doesn’t have that. It only takes 50 votes for inclusion.

According to The Hill, McConnell said the Planned Parenthood amendment was not germane to the Highway Bill and that’s why it was blocked.

He also made the same determination for “Kate’s Law,” which was named after Kate Steinle, the woman who was shot and killed in San Francisco on July 1 by an illegal alien who had been deported five times and already had seven felony convictions. It would have imposed a mandatory five year prison term on any illegal alien convicted of a violent felony if they had been previously deported.

So those weren’t allowed, however he deemed the Export-Import Bank amendment and ObamaCare defunding “germane” to the highway bill? Huh? 

Senator Reid, who held the leadership position before McConnell, often used to use this tactic and he was criticized heavily by the Republicans when he did.

Senate elders across the board also gave Cruz a “smackdown” for his speech last week, where he called McConnell a liar. The lawmakers turned down his appeal to have his amendment to keep sanctions against Iran in place until they recognized Israel’s right to exist.

The amendment was ruled out of order last week. When the Senate’s presiding officer called on Sunday for someone to second Cruz’s motion for an appeal, not one other senator did, effectively putting Cruz on “time out” for his earlier accusations.

Cruz was unwavering however, saying the Senate Republican leaders were marching in lockstep with Senate Democrats on things like funding Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), funding Planned Parenthood and refusing to tie and Iran nuclear deal to Iran’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

“They operate as a team, expanding Washington and undermining the liberty of the people,” Cruz said of Senate Democratic and Republican leaders.

“We’ve just seen something extraordinary on the Senate floor. The American people elected a Republican majority believing that a Republican majority would be somehow different from a Democratic majority in the United States Senate. Unfortunately, the way the current Senate operates, there is one party, the Washington party.”

Looks like it is the same old, same old up on Capitol Hill.

Photo by Voices Empower with Alice Linahan

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