In his first official speech as Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell finally stepped into his role, laid out his vision, and addressed his upcoming battle against President Obama head on.
“If President Obama is interested in a historic achievement of his own, this can be his time as well,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “I appreciate that bipartisan compromise may not come easily for the president. The president’s supporters are pressing for militancy these days, not compromise. They’re demanding the comforts of purity over the duties of progress.”
A day after Obama threatened to veto legislation for the construction of the Keystone pipeline—the Senate’s first effort of the new session—McConnell made it clear that he was not backing down.
“Threatening to veto a jobs and infrastructure bill within minutes of a new Congress taking the oath of office—a bill with strong bipartisan support—is anything but productive,” said the Republican from Kentucky.
While McConnell acknowledged that trade, infrastructure, and tax reform were areas he was willing to work with Obama on, he also made it clear that it was not his job to “protect the president from good ideas.”
“A little creative tension between the executive and the legislature can be healthy in a democracy like ours,” McConnell said.
McConnell’s overarching message was simple, however: It’s time to make the Senate work again.
A three-decade veteran of the body, McConnell is fully aware that the Senate can be slow, unwieldy, and stubborn at times. But he made it clear that in his new role, he would try to restore some of the fundamental rules of the body.
“It’s time to change the business model,” McConnell said, a dig at the way the Senate was run under former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “We need to return to regular order. We need to get committees working again.”
Republicans in the 113th Congress often complained that there was not ample opportunity to offer amendments on the floor. McConnell said that would change.
“Sometimes, it’s going to mean working more often. Sometimes, it’s going to mean working late,” McConnell said. “But restoring the Senate is the right thing to do.”
But McConnell’s job, will be much more challenging than simply moving funding bills and infrastructure legislation along in a regular order. The American people are disenchanted with Congress. A CNN poll released Tuesday showed that just 37 percent of voters believed that a Republican-controlled Congress would be able to accomplish more than a Democratic-controlled one did.
“The people we represent have lost faith in their government. They no longer trust Washington to do the right thing,” McConnell said. “In an era of divided political control, we’re going to have to work hard to meet expectations, and we’re going to have to work together.”
What We're Following See More »
"Republican megadonor Foster Friess has told party leaders in Wyoming that he plans to run for governor," and is expected to make an announcement this afternoon. Friess has donated "millions of dollars to Republican candidates and causes over the last decade, according to federal campaign finance records," including over "$1.7 million to boost Santorum's [presidential] campaign" in 2016. Gov. Matt Mead (R) is term-limited, and "a handful of Republicans are running in an open primary to succeed him in one of the reddest states in the country."
Four Palestinian protestors have been killed by Israeli fire near the Gaza-Israel border, bringing the death toll to 38, in what marks the "fourth consecutive week of Gaza's March of Return mass protests." The marches are part of a "month-and-a-half-long protest organized by Hamas near the border fence," which organizers have said will not stop before May 15. The marches are intended to emulate anti-apartheid protests in South Africa, and to commemorate the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, during the establishment of the State of Israel.
"Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is looking to sue for defamation, wrongful termination and other possible civil claims, his lawyer told reporters Friday." McCabe's attorney Michael Bromwich said that his team "hasn't managed to find any witnesses to corroborate McCabe's version of the story," although they have not had enough time to do so. "McCabe’s lawyers are also seeking ways to release the emails between McCabe and Comey, which would offer insight into their communication about the leaks to the Wall Street Journal."
"The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump. The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there." The DNC is seeking "millions of dollars in compensation to offset damage it claims the party suffered from the hacks," and is arguing the cyberattack" undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and, in some cases, death threats."
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have fined Wells Fargo $1 billion dollars for convincing customers to buy insurance they did not need, and could not afford. "In October, the bank revealed that some mortgage borrowers were inappropriately charged for missing a deadline to lock in promised interest rates, even though the delays were Wells Fargo's fault." The bank has also apologized for . "charging as many as 570,000 clients for car insurance they didn't need," and found that about 20,000 of those customers "may have defaulted on their car loans and had their vehicles repossessed in part because of those unnecessary insurance costs."