How lucky Mitch McConnell was when Chuck Schumer looked at the possible Senate candidates in Arizona and discovered Kyrsten Sinema! Schumer cleared the field for the worst Democrat in the House-- chair of the Blue Dog coalition and proud to sport the most Republican voting record in Congress. Sinema is not a normal political player like Manchin-- who is at least as bad as she is in the Senate. Take it from someone who has known her personally for a decade: she is irrational, narcissistic-beyond-Trump, flat out insane and therefor extremely dangerous. But not to McConnell, who absolutely adores her.
Nothing can move through the Senate without a buy-in from Manchin and Sinema, both of whom, two ugly small people, are devoted to preventing anything remotely progressive from passing. How different-- if completely out of character-- it would have been had Schumer decided to let Arizona Democrats choose the candidate instead of clearly the field and discouraging Congressman Ruben Gallego. What a tragedy! I wonder if Schumer has the self-awareness to understand how he fucked himself-- not to mention the country-- over. I doubt it.
Today, in the wee hours of the morning, NBC.com published a piece by Sahil Kapur, In The Democratic Senate, The Path To Making Law Goes Through Mitch McConnell, that could havenever have been said about Schumer when he was minority leader. Thank you Joe Manchin; thank you Kyrsten Sinema. Thank you all the assholes who are too stupid to understand that this is what lesser-of-two-evils electoral strategies inevitably leads to.
Though McConnell doesn't control the floor or command a majority, he's up against such a weak and incompetent majority leader in Schumer, that he's still de facto in charge. "A pattern is emerging," wrote Kapur, "for legislation the majority seeks to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate: When McConnell supports it, it has a chance. When he opposes it, it tends to run headlong into the 60-vote barrier. In short, there is no easy route to pick off the necessary 10 Republicans without him. That carries warnings for President Joe Biden's agenda, whether it's infrastructure or overhauling voting laws, as McConnell mobilizes to stymie his biggest ambitions."
McConnell persuaded Republicans to block an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol-- just six GOP senators voted for the proposal, which fell short of 60. McConnell also recently led a filibuster of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
"I don't necessarily like it, but when he decides to tell his caucus, 'Don't support a bipartisan January 6th commission,' they mostly fall in line. And that's unfortunate," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). "When he tells them, 'Stick with me,' they usually do."
McConnell has, however, supported less contentious bills-- and they have succeeded. He voted for legislation to boost U.S. competitiveness with China, which passed 68-32. He voted for a bill to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans, which passed 94-1. He voted for a modest upgrade to water systems, which passed 89-2.
That formula is unlikely to be replicated for Biden's top priority, passing a multitrillion-dollar economic plan to invest in infrastructure and expand the safety net. Democrats have the option to overhaul spending and tax laws without GOP votes. But that filibuster-proof avenue isn't available for other priorities, like changing election rules or the immigration system, which are likely to require McConnell's stamp of approval.
And that has created deep tension within the Democratic Party about whether to preserve or abolish the 60-vote threshold.
On occasion, McConnell wields power to stop his own members. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, learned it the hard way in 2019 when, by his account, McConnell stymied his bipartisan bill to reduce drug prices by asking GOP colleagues not to support it, and the bill faded.
...Unlike in previous eras, when both parties included broad ideological spectrums of lawmakers who made way for dealmaking, few members of either party are regularly willing to break ranks. That means the path to winning 10 Republican votes tends to go through McConnell.
"It's no secret he's never been interested in getting a background checks bill done. No secret he's never been interested in getting an infrastructure bill done," said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). "I don't foresee us bringing a bill to the floor that isn't opposed by some parts of the gun lobby, and if that's the case, then Sen. McConnell obviously could push against it."
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) calls it the "McConnell veto." Progressive activists say it proves the need to eliminate the 60-vote hurdle, which Democrats don't have the 50 votes to do.
Eli Zupnick, a former Democratic leadership aide and spokesman for a coalition working to end the filibuster, said: "Sen. McConnell's highest priority is blocking President Biden's agenda, and the filibuster is the weapon he wields to do that, so why would Senate Democrats continue giving him veto power over promises they made to the voters who put them in power?"
McConnell, who is frequently called an "obstructionist" by Democrats, wears the label as a badge of honor, having dubbed himself the "grim reaper" of progressive legislation in 2019.
[Far right] Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said during the Jan. 6 commission debate that "Mitch McConnell makes it extremely difficult" to get things done on a bipartisan basis in the Senate. Still, he remains a supporter of the filibuster rule.
Ben Nelson, a former [right wing] Democratic senator from Nebraska, takes a dim view of McConnell in his coming book, Death of the Senate... He warns Biden not to trust McConnell, calling him a "dark knight who lives, breathes and eats to gain political advantage breakfast, lunch, dinner."
A way out? Sure; defeat every primary candidate Schumer backs and support non-Sinema/non-Manchin progressives instead. Support Chris Larson in Wisconsin, Alan Grayson in Florida, Erica Smith in North Carolina, Lucas Kunce in Missouri, Colin Byrd in Maryland and, if he runs, which looks very likely, Charles Booker in Kentucky. You can start here if you want to contribute some money. Schumer will never advertise his candidates by saying look at so-and-so; he's better than Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, but just a little bit. Instead he'll lie and present worthless status quo garbage candidates as "progressives" even if they have not a progressive bone in their bodies.