Posts tagged with "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky"

More than 200 U.S. mayors demand that Senate reconvene to pass background check bills

August 9, 2019

More than 200 U.S. mayors—including a half-dozen whose cities have experienced recent high-profile mass shootings—wrote a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, August 8, urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to reconvene he lawmakers in order to pass legislation strengthening background checks for gun buyers, The Washington Post reported.

On behalf of The United States Conference of Mayors, we urge you to immediately call the Senate back to Washington to take action on bipartisan gun safety legislation,” they said. The conference is the official non-partisan organization of American cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,408 such cities nationwide—each of them represented by a mayor.

Those who signed include El Paso Mayor Dee Margo (R) and Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley (D). Separate shootings left 31 dead in their two cities over the weekend, the news outlet stated.

The mayors of several other cities that have experienced mass shootings in recent years were also on-board with the missive, including those of Annapolis, Orlando, Parkland, Florida, and Pittsburgh.

Specifically, the Post reported, the mayors are asking the Senate to return from August recess to pass two bills that were approved earlier this year by the Democratic-led House but that have not been advanced in the Republican-led Senate by McConnell, who has been nicknamed the Grim Reaper.

A spokesperson for McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the letter from the Post. Earlier this week, McConnell issued a statement saying Senate Republicans were prepared to “do our part” to address mass shootings, but the statement made no mention of the House-passed bills.

In the aftermath of the weekend shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) urged McConnell to call senators back to Washington.

“To @SenateMajLdr McConnell, we say #EnoughIsEnough. Stop blocking gun safety reforms over 90% of Americans support. Gavel the Senate into emergency session to take immediate action on the bipartisan, House-passed universal background checks legislation.”

Trump has threatened to veto the two bills, saying they do not sufficiently protect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners.

Since the weekend shootings, however, the Post reports, Trump has expressed a new openness to considering background checks. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, he said that there “was great appetite for background checks” and that he was “looking to do background checks.” He did not specifically mention the House-passed bills.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Schumer to Trump: Order McConnell to hold vote on background check bill

August 6, 2019

It’s a vicious cycle in the United States: A mass murder, prayers and vigils, a demand for background checks on gun transactions, a mass murder ….

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) called on President Donald Trump on August 5 to tell Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to bring a stand-alone background check bill for gun sales up for a Senate vote—dismissing Trump’s suggestion of tying it to immigration reform, The Hill reported.

Just after noon on Monday, Schumer tweeted, “… McConnell has called himself the ‘grim reaper’ and refuses to act on this bipartisan legislation. It is incumbent upon the Senate to come back into session to pass the House-passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 immediately.”

Following two mass shootings over the past weekend—one in El Paso, Texas, and one in Dayton, Ohio, that killed a total of nearly 30 people and injured many more—Schumer tweeted, “Instead of flailing around blaming everything under the sun, if the president is serious about ‘strong background checks’ there’s one thing he can do: Demand Senator McConnell put the bipartisan, House-passed universal background checks bill up for a vote.”

Trump, himself, said on Monday that he wanted legislation providing “strong background checks,” including potentially linking it to long-stalled immigration reform.

However, it didn’t take long for the president to backtrack. By 12:21 p.m. on Monday, Schumer had tweeted, “It took less than three hours for President @realDonaldTrump to back off his call for stronger background check legislation. When he can’t talk about guns when he talks about gun violence, it shows the president remains prisoner to the gun lobby and the NRA.”

The Senate left for the five-week August recess on August 1 and are out of session until September 9. A spokesperson for Schumer did not respond immediately to a question from The Hill about if Democrats will try to clear a bill by unanimous consent during pro forma sessions this week. The request would likely be blocked by a GOP senator.

Senator Chris Murphy (Connecticut) echoed Schumer’s demand in a tweet on Monday morning—saying Trump asking McConnell to bring up a bill would ensure its passage.

“Background checks has already passed the House—w Republican votes. If Trump asked McConnell to support it, it would pass in a week. FYI – he won’t do that,” he tweeted.

Research contact: @thehill

Schumer predicts ‘Moscow Mitch’ will capitulate on election security

August 5, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) rarely budges in the face of political pressure. But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) thinks election security could be the exception, according to a report by Politico.

Calling the political plays on August 1, Schumer anticipated that—under the pressure of the “Moscow Mitch” campaign (a moniker that McConnell is said to dislike intensely)—the GOP leader soon would buckle and take up federal election security, a once-bipartisan issue.

“I predict that the pressure will continue to mount on Republican senators, especially Leader McConnell, and they will be forced to join us and take meaningful action on election security this fall,” Schumer said. “My prediction is our relentless push is going to produce results.”

McConnell is being bashed by pundits, Democrats, and even former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and current presidential candidate Julián Castro as “Moscow Mitch.”

In response, Politico said, this week, McConnell mounted a forceful defense on the Senate floor of his decision not to move forward on federal election security bills. He called suggestions that he’s “un-American” or a tool of Vladimir Putin a “smear” and an example of “modern-day McCarthyism.”

“I worked to ensure Congress sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the states to improve their defenses, and applauded the whole-of-government efforts that the administration continues,” McConnell said on July 29. “Some of my colleagues quickly pivoted right back into hysterical accusations that only fan the flames of this modern-day McCarthyism. These pundits are lying when they dismiss the work that has been done.”

But Democrats remain unconvinced that enough is being done to protect the election system from attacks by the Russians, as well as other incursions.

Senator Schumer even  suggested that—because he has not “heard one good reason from Republicans why they shouldn’t do it”—there could be something more nefarious afoot, Politico reported.

“Is it, I hope not, that they think if Russia interferes it will be benefit them? Is it, I hope not, that they’re afraid of President Trump who has this childish and puerile view that if he admits there is Russian interference it makes his election illegitimate?” Schumer asked on Thursday.

Research contact: @politico

Moscow Mitch denies he is aiding Kremlin

August 1, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is angered by his new nickname, Moscow Mitch. On July 29, he strode to the Senate floor to defend his decision to block an election security bill and lashed out at critics who suggested he was helping Russia—complaining that they had engaged in “modern-day McCarthyism” to “smear” his record.

“The[y] … [don’t] let a little thing like reality get in their way,” said McConnell in a nearly 30-minute speech , according to a report by The Washington Post.

The Republican ringleader—who has blocked every bill passed by the Democratic House during this session—saw fit to say, “They [perceived] the perfect opportunity to distort and tell lies and fuel the flames of partisan hatred, and so they did.”

McConnell was responding primarily to an opinion column by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, published July 26 under the headline, “Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.”

The majority leader used what is usually a speech on the Senate’s upcoming workweek to issue an angry denunciation of the column and some liberal commentators on MSNBC—accusing Senate Democrats of helping fan the liberal flames, the news outlet reported.

Last week, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about whether President Trump had tried to obstruct the inquiry. Casting Russian sabotage as a serious threat to the United States, Mueller warned that interference efforts were happening “as we sit” in the hearing rooms.

Hours after Mueller’s testimony, Democrats tried to get the Senate to vote on bipartisan election security legislation. Republicans objected. The next day, Democrats tried to get a vote on a bill that would have authorized hundreds of millions of dollars to update voting equipment. McConnell objected, The Washington Post noted.

Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor, defended Milbank’s column and criticized the GOP leader for invoking McCarthyism.  “Dana Milbank’s column was a legitimate exercise in commentary, making the argument that Senator McConnell’s blocking of elections-security legislation will harm the United States and work to Russia’s advantage. Of course it’s equally legitimate for Mr. McConnell to express a contrary view, but the Milbank argument has nothing to do with McCarthyism,” Hiatt said in a statement.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Never mind: Trump reverses himself on Obamacare replacement vote

April 4, 2019

President Donald Trump now claims he never wanted Congress to “repeal and replace” Obamacare ahead of the 2020 elections, even though he unexpectedly revived the issue and pushed for swift action over the course of the past week, The Hill reports.

“I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election on the wonderful HealthCare package that some very talented people are now developing for me & the Republican Party. It will be on full display during the Election as a much better & less expensive alternative to ObamaCare,” he tweeted.

The president denied that pressure from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) led him to change his plans, even though he announced his decision after speaking with the top GOP senator on Monday.

“I never asked Mitch McConnell for a vote before the Election as has been incorrectly reported (as usual) in the @nytimes, but only after the Election when we take back the House etc. Republicans will always support pre-existing conditions!” Trump wrote.

However, The Hill reported that, on Monday, April 1, McConnell told the president that he would not bow to White House demands to revisit healthcare so soon, and that the Senate will not be moving comprehensive health care legislation before the 2020 election, despite the president asking Senate Republicans to do that in a meeting last week.

McConnell said he made clear to the president that Senate Republicans will work on bills to keep down the cost of health care, but that they will not work on a comprehensive package to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Following that conversation—and his own about-face in tweets on the issue—President Trump predicted that healthcare “will be a great campaign issue” for Republicans.

I wanted to delay it myself. I want to put it after the election because we don’t have the House,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office.

Research contact: @thehill

Senators Graham and McConnell doubt ‘rogue player’ Saudi scenario

October 17, 2018

Although President Donald Trump has suggested that “rogue players” were responsible for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, two of his most avid GOP acolytes are not supporting that version of the story.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who adamantly backed the POTUS’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, during the Judicial Committee hearings late last month—and who is said to be bucking for a Cabinet position within the administration—came out strongly against the Saudi Crown Prince on October 16, during an appearance on Fox & Friends.

“I’ve been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate,” Graham said of the Saudi leadership. However, he commented, “This guy [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] is a wrecking ball. Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it.”

The observations by Graham—described by Bloomberg as “an influential foreign policy hawk in Congress who frequently advises President Donald Trump”—represented some of the harshest words yet made in public by a senior Republican on the Khashoggi disappearance, that news outlet said. He said he’d support efforts to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.”

“He had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey and to expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused,” Graham said on Fox. “I was on the floor every time defending Saudi Arabia because it’s a good ally. There’s a difference between a country and an individual. The MBS figure is to me toxic. He can never be a world leader on the world stage.”

Graham also signed off on an October 10 letter to President Trump that aimed to trigger both an investigation into the alleged murder and sanctions for the Saudis.

The letter read, in part, “The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights, which includes ‘torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, and other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of person.’ Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi. Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.”

The other signatories on the letter included Senators Bob Corker (Tennessee) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who are, respectively the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), who is ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (of which Graham, himself is chairman). In addition, a number of other legislators, both Democratic and Republican, added their names to the correspondence.

In addition, an October 16 report by Bloomberg noted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)—who has supported Trump on every major policy effort, from deconstructing Obamacare to the tax bill to the Supreme Court nomination— said the disappearance and possible murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi looks “extremely disturbing” but the United States needs to determine what role Saudi Arabia’s government may have played before responding.

“Clearly we need to find out what happened before deciding what action should be taken,” McConnell said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “I can’t imagine if what we think happened, that we would take no action.”

Asked whether that action would include halting arms sales to the Saudis, McConnell said he’s not ready to say which form of action he would take. He that the president did “the right thing” by sending Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to Saudi Arabia on October 15 to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Research contact: @DonnaAN1