Posts tagged with "Minority Leader Mitch McConnell"

Republicans block government funding, refusing to lift debt limit

September 29, 2021

Senate Republicans have blocked a spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown this week and a federal debt default next month—moving the nation closer to the brink of fiscal crisis as they refused to allow Democrats to lift the limit on federal borrowing, The New York Times reports.

With a Thursday, September 30, deadline looming to fund the government—and the country moving closer to a catastrophic debt-limit breach— the stalemate in the Senate represents another bid by Republicans to undercut President Biden and top Democrats at a critical moment.

Republicans who had voted to raise the debt cap by trillions when their party controlled Washington argued on Monday, September 27, that Democrats must shoulder the entire political burden for doing so now, given that they control the White House and both houses of Congress.

The GOP was calculated to portray Democrats as ineffectual and overreaching at a time when they are already toiling to iron out deep party divisions over a $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate change bill, and to pave the way for a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure measure whose fate is linked to it.

The package that was blocked on Monday, which also included emergency aid to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees and disaster recovery, would keep all government agencies funded through December 3 and increase the debt ceiling through the end of 2022. But the bill fell far short of the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate on Monday.

The vote was 48 to 50 to advance the measure. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, was among those voting “no,” a procedural maneuver to allow the bill to be reconsidered at some point. But there were no immediate details about next steps.

The resulting cloud of fiscal uncertainty marked yet another challenge for President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders, who are facing a daunting set of tasks as they press to keep the government funded, scrounge together the votes for the infrastructure bill—also slated for a vote on Thursday—and resolve their disputes over the broader budget plan.

Without passage of the legislation, Biden’s agenda and his party’s fortunes would be in peril, a prospect that Republicans appeared to relish, The Times said.

“We will not provide Republican votes for raising the debt limit,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, repeating a warning he has issued for months. He added, “Bipartisanship is not a light switch—a light switch that Democrats get to flip on when they need to borrow money and switch off when they want to spend money.”

“This isn’t your typical Washington fracas,” Schumer said, adding, “it’s one of the most reckless, one of the most irresponsible votes I have seen taken place in the Senate.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Senate introduces text of bipartisan infrastructure package

August 4, 2021

The U.S. Senate introduced the long-awaited text of its bipartisan infrastructure bill on Sunday, August 1—aiming to pass the massive measure this week, NBC News reports.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said he would push forward with amendments to the legislation, which senators were finalizing through the weekend.

“Given how bipartisan the bill is, and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in a matter of days,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The measure—H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—includes roughly $555 billion in new spending to build roads, public transit and other priorities of President Joe Biden, which would inject a windfall of money into a series of transportation projects that have long enjoyed support from both parties.

The bill, which is 2,702 pages, includes $110 billion for roads, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for rail. It has measures aimed at reforming Amtrak, “revolutionizing” a transportation grant program and enhancing the electrical grid. Other provisions target drinking water infrastructure, broadband affordability and reducing ferry emissions.

Speaking on the Senate floor, members of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who worked on the bill said that they had overcome their differences to craft legislation that would modernize the country’s outdated infrastructure.

“So many people have given up on the Senate,” said Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) “They have given up on Congress. They have given up on our ability to be able to do the big things. This is big. This is a big deal.”

Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) added that the group had followed a commitment to focus on “core” infrastructure—instead of a far more expansive set of proposals initially advanced by the White House—and to not raise taxes.

“We kept to those two principles,” he said.

The Senate voted 67-32 on Wednesday to defeat a filibuster and begin debate on the agreement, a sign that it has broad support in the chamber. Among the 17 Republican supporters in that vote was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

According to NBC News, Schumer said that once the bill was passed, he would move to a budget blueprint for an even more massive $3.5 trillion measure to fund Democratic priorities on climate, health care and the economy as senators work to finish up legislative work before their summer break begins next week.

The Senate’s infrastructure legislation faces trouble in the House amid pushback from Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), and progressives who say it doesn’t do enough to invest in public transportation, water and tackle climate change.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has insisted that the larger measure must be passed before the House, which already has left for its recess, will even consider the bipartisan infrastructure deal. The larger bill will give Democrats skeptical of the Senate agreement a chance to address their priorities.

Biden voiced his support for the infrastructure measure Sunday, tweeting that the deal “is the most important investment in public transit in American history and the most important investment in rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

‘Not going to happen’: Progressives slam McConnell effort to sabotage reconciliation bill

June 30, 2021

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is actively working to undermine the Democratic majority’s emerging infrastructure strategy by demanding the separation of the White House-backed bipartisan deal from a broader reconciliation package—a non-starter for progressives who say they will not support the former without simultaneous passage of the latter, Raw Story reports.

“It’s not going to happen,” Representative Ro Khanna (D-California) told NBC News on June 28, referring to McConnell’s request. “There is no way a bipartisan deal passes the House without a vote the same day on a Senate-passed reconciliation that has bold climate provisions.”

In a statement on Monday, McConnell called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Caliornia) to “walk back their threats that they will refuse to send the president a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they also separately pass” a sweeping reconciliation package; which the newly re-elected Kentucky Republican referred to as “unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism.”

According to Raw Story, along with other members of his caucus, McConnell—despite being well aware of the Democrats’ two-track approach—voiced outrage last week after President Joe Biden said he would refuse to sign a bipartisan infrastructure bill that is not accompanied by separate legislation that addresses other Democratic priorities, from investments in green energy to child care to paid family leave. The Democratic package would pass through reconciliation, an arcane budget process that is exempt from the 60-vote legislative filibuster that McConnell has frequently wielded to stymie the majority party’s agenda.

Biden soon softened his position amid Republican backlash, saying in a statement Saturday that he intends to “pursue the passage” of the $579 billion bipartisan measure “with vigor” and will sign it if it reaches his desk.

But Biden’s shift was not enough for McConnell, who said the president’s vow will amount to a “hollow gesture” unless Schumer and Pelosi take the same position.

On Thursday, Pelosi said the House won’t hold a vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate also passes the broader reconciliation package—a stance that won applause from progressive lawmakers, who are now urging the Democratic leadership to hold firm in the face of what they view as McConnell’s bad-faith sabotage effort.

Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pointed to McConnell’s remark last month that “100%” of his focus is on “stopping this new administration.”

“The last person who should have a say on our agenda is Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell,” Jayapal tweeted. “We’re going to go big and bold on our reconciliation package because that’s what people voted us in to do.”

Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee—which is headed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)—are expected to hold a call this week to discuss the size and scope of the nascent reconciliation bill.

Sanders is reportedly pushing for a roughly $6 trillion package that includes Medicare expansion, significant spending on climate action, and other investments. The youth-led Sunrise Movement is demanding that Democrats to go even further by embracing a $10 trillion in climate and infrastructure spending over the next decade.

But, in order to pass, any reconciliation bill must win the vote of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WestVirginia), who indicated over the weekend that he would not be willing to support a package larger than $2 trillion, according to Raw Story.

In a tweet on Monday, Sanders addressed those suggesting his reconciliation offer is too pricey.

“For those who say the budget framework I proposed costs ‘too much,’ what would you cut?” the Vermont senator asked. “Combating climate change? Childcare? Universal Pre-K? Paid family and medical leave? Dental, hearing, and vision [for Medicare recipients]? Housing? Long-term home healthcare? Child Tax Credit? Waiting…”

Research contact: @RawStoryRaw S

Democrat calls Manchin a ‘new Mitch McConnell,’ who is working to thwart Biden’s agenda

June 8, 2021

On July 7, New York Democratic Representative Jamaal Bowman compared fellow Democrat Senator Joe  of West Virginia to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky—and said that Manchin is attempting to obstruct President Joe Biden’s agenda, based on his recent decisions to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill and to retain the filibuster, CNN reported.

“Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell during Obama’s presidency said he would do everything in his power to stop (then-President Barack Obama),” Bowman told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “He’s also repeated that now during the Biden presidency by saying he would do everything in his power to stop President Biden, and now Joe Manchin is doing everything in his power to stop democracy and to stop our work for the people, the work that the people sent us here to do.”

Bowman continued, “Manchin is not pushing us closer to bipartisanship. He is doing the work of the Republican Party by being an obstructionist, just like they’ve been since the beginning of Biden’s presidency.”

Bowman’s scathing criticism of his fellow Democrat is an outward s—has become a roadblock for some of Biden’s agenda.

On Sunday, Manchin defended his decision to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill called the For the People Act, writing in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that “partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy.”

What’s more, CNN notes, for months, Manchin has remained a key holdup to the voting rights bill and he is the only Democratic senator not listed as a co-sponsor on the legislation.

He also asserted that “the fundamental right to vote has, itself, become overtly politicized,” and—taking aim at members of his party—said some Democrats have “attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.”

In the past, Manchin has argued that Democrats who want to abolish the filibuster should be careful what they wish for, noting then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move in 2013 to remove the 60-vote filibuster standard for most presidential nominees was later cited by Republicans to lift the rule for Supreme Court justices, which eventually led to a conservative majority on the high court.

Research contact: @CNN