McConnell: Making the Senate Work Again


John David Dyche


The United States Senate is often called "the world's greatest deliberative body."  Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, the Senate's Republican leader, wants to make that description true again. 

With that goal in mind McConnell made an important speech on the Senate floor last week.  All students of American government, indeed all American citizens, should read or watch it. 

McConnell is in the midst of a tough reelection campaign.  He is taking fire from both a Republican primary rival and a Democratic general election opponent.

But as he has done many times before, and usually without getting attention, much less credit, for it, McConnell is putting the country's best interests ahead of political concerns.  This time his mission is to save the Senate from itself.

The mainstream media often tries to make McConnell the villain in stories about the Senate's dysfunction.  He acknowledges that he and his party have some responsibility, but he still seeks to recover and preserve the special role the Senate plays in producing "durable and stable legislative consensus."

McConnell argues that in America's toughest crises, the Senate has been "the tool that has enabled us to find our footing almost every time."  He notes the bipartisan support that measures like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Americans With Disabilities Act enjoyed.

"None of this happened by throwing these bills together in a backroom and dropping them on the floor with a stopwatch running," McConnell contends.  "It happened through a laborious process of legislating, persuasion, and coalition-building" that "took time and hard work," and "guaranteed that every one of these laws had stability."

By contrast, today's Senate is marked by a majority that simply imposes its will.  Instead of meaningful debate the proceedings are often little more than a Senator standing "in front of a giant poster board making some poll-tested point of the month," McConnell says.

The recent move by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid to "defy bipartisan opposition" and change the Senate rules by simple majority vote got a lot of attention.  But this partial repeal of the Senate's venerable super-majority requirements is only one of several regrettable changes under Reid's regime.

McConnell calls for three major reforms.  He wants to reinvigorate the committee process, restore the right of Senators to offer and debate amendments to legislation, and extend the Senate's truncated workweek.

The once powerful committee process helps produce bipartisan consensus according to McConnell.  "By the time a bill got through a committee, you could expect it to come out in a form that was broadly acceptable to both sides."

Now, however, "major legislation is routinely drafted not in committee but in the Majority Leader's conference room and then dropped on the floor with little or no opportunity for members to participate in the amendment process, virtually guaranteeing a fight."

A free and open amendment process may make for more tough votes, McConnell says, but it would also make the Senate less contentious.  When the Majority Leader blocks amendments, as Reid did last week on an unemployment bill, Senators who have already been shut out of any meaningful committee input have an incentive to retaliate.

Finally, McConnell calls for a longer Senate workweek.  He says that working more would also help force consensus as it did in days past.

None of this would do away with partisanship, of course.  "But when the Senate is allowed to work the way it was designed to," McConnell says, "it arrives at a result that's acceptable to people all along the political spectrum."

McConnell concluded with the historical observation that historians regard Lyndon Johnson's "well-known heavy handedness" as a kind of mastery of the Senate.  But LBJ's successor as Senate Majority Leader, the mild-mannered Democrat Mike Mansfield of Montana, spent "the next 16 years restoring the Senate to a place of greater cooperation and freedom."

If Republicans win a net gain of six seats and retake the Senate majority this year and McConnell remains the GOP leader, look for him to model his majority leadership after Mansfield's.  One good MM deserves another.

As Kentuckians cast their ballots for Senator later this year, they should remember that McConnell is positioned to have a positive impact on truly big, bipartisan, constitutional, and institutional issues.  Everyone already knows the Senate race in Kentucky is important, but McConnell's speech shows that it is even more significant than people realize.

The future of the Senate as a functional institution is at stake.  McConnell promises changes that will restore that "most exclusive club" to its critical place in the American political system.


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How Obamacare hurts women and families

News Democrat & Leader

Letter by Senator Mitch McConnell

The Obama Administration pitched Obamacare as a benefit to a number of groups, but perhaps none more so than women. Yet, I’ve heard from countless women across Kentucky about how Obamacare is hurting them and their families. With 280,000 canceled policies in Kentucky thanks to Obamacare, too many women have lost the coverage they had and trusted.


These policies were contemptuously dismissed by the president’s allies as “junk,” reflecting this administration’s “we know what’s best for you” approach to governing. It’s no surprise that, according to a recent CNN poll, support for Obamacare has dropped to a record low among women, with 60 percent of them opposed to the law.


Under Obamacare, Kentucky mothers who are making health care decisions for themselves and their families are noticing a big change in health care costs. Take the problems of Lana Lynch of Brandenburg. “My out-of-pocket [health care] expenses for my family of five went from $1,500 a year to $7,000 a year,” she wrote me.


Women without children are also expressing their concerns. Another constituent of mine, Cheryl Russell of Owensboro, wrote to say, “According to our insurance company, we will have to take pediatric dental and vision insurance—we don’t have kids. It will cost us over $150 more a month, plus our deductible goes up $5,700…we are 58 and 56 years old; we will have to work the rest of our life just to pay for our insurance. This isn’t fair and it isn’t right.”


I am saddened that Cheryl is finding out, as have many other Kentuckians, that premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses will rise in 2014 thanks to Obamacare. In fact, a recent study found that premiums will rise an average of 47 percent in Kentucky, and I’ve heard many constituents are facing even steeper increases—sometimes greater than 100 percent.


I also heard from Beverly of Pleasureville about her difficult experience in searching for plans on the exchange. She wrote, “My husband had a kidney transplant in 2006, and his transplant team is in Cincinnati…none of his transplant team, physicians or hospital, were accepting this coverage.” They had to pay much higher rates just to ensure continuity of care.


It’s not a surprise I have heard from so many of Kentucky’s mothers, daughters, and sisters. Respected studies show that women make 80 percent of health care decisions, and they care deeply about how this law will impact their families. Unfortunately, many of them like Beverly have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals because under Obamacare, insurers are incentivized to shrink their provider networks to limit further premium increases. Families are losing the ability to go to health facilities they know and trust.


More than 8 million women-owned small businesses in America, employing more than 7.8 million people, will be especially hard hit by the law. I’ve heard from many Kentucky women small-business owners who fear they will be unable to bear the higher costs of Obamacare coverage for their employees and are reducing hiring, cutting hours, or laying off staff to avoid these costs.


And women account for the majority of all Medicaid enrollees in Kentucky—more than 55 percent. But Obamacare will add an additional 300,000 Kentuckians onto our state’s already strained Medicaid system, offering the promise of coverage, but not providing access to the huge number of new doctors needed to make good on that promise. Kentucky already suffers from a shortage of doctors. More additions to the Medicaid rolls will only dash expectations of more Kentucky women who are in need of healthcare.


Mothers and families in Kentucky will face higher taxes under Obamacare, too. For instance, millions of American families use Flexible Spending Accounts to help make ends meet for things like childcare or out-of-pocket health care expenses. But Obamacare places new limits on how much families can set aside in these accounts and prevents them from being used for many of the most common medical expenses like over-the-counter cold or allergy medicines.


The bottom line is that Obamacare is forcing many Kentucky families to pay higher prices for fewer choices. A letter I received from Giselle Martino of Prospect sums it up well. “I am now forced into the exchange for a lesser plan with more exclusions and higher deductibles,” she wrote. “I will most likely never reach those deductibles. How does this help me? What a disappointment this administration has caused.”


Giselle is right. Her experiences—along with those of Cheryl, Beverly, and thousands of other women across the state—prove that Obamacare has been a disaster for Kentucky. Government doesn’t know better than Kentucky women when it comes to their and their family’s health care. Washington should instead repeal Obamacare and focus on common-sense, step-by-step reforms that lower costs and promote health care choices for women and for all our citizens.


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McConnell challenges Dems to allow debate on job measures

The Hill


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said if Democrats were serious about job creation, they would allow one of his bills to be considered as an amendment to the unemployment insurance extension.

McConnell, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have recently introduced the Economic Freedom Zones Act, which would allow impoverished areas to be exempt from some government regulations.

“With this legislation ... small-business owners would see fewer government regulations, enabling them to create jobs and drive prosperity,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Entrepreneurs would see punitive tax barriers peeled back, allowing them to lead a recovery with new ideas and energy. Failed education systems would see reforms that lift up disadvantaged children, giving new hope to a younger generation.”

McConnell failed to give specifics on which burdensome regulations would be lifted, but challenged Democrats to let the bill be debated during consideration of the temporary extension of unemployment insurance for the 1.3 million people who lose their benefits on Dec. 28.

McConnell said lawmakers should be working to solve the problem of unemployment rather than simply treating the symptoms.

“So if our Democrat colleagues are serious about their focus on economic distress — if it’s more than just some poll-tested ObamaCare distraction — then I invite them to work with us on innovative new approaches like this,” McConnell said. “They could allow the Senate, for instance, to consider our proposal as an amendment to the UI legislation currently on the floor.”

McConnell’s remarks came minutes after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) criticized Republicans for complaining instead of legislating.

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McConnell filing paperwork for re-election

Associated Press

FRANKFORT, KY. — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is officially filing his paperwork for re-election, and Kentucky's two other statewide-elected Republicans are lending their names to the effort.

McConnell's campaign says Sen. Rand Paul and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer will sign McConnell's papers on Tuesday.

McConnell's campaign says it's releasing a new video that includes comments by Paul and Comer.

In the video, Paul praises McConnell's efforts to oppose the federal health-care overhaul and to push in support of a balanced budget amendment.

McConnell — the state's longest-serving senator — is seeking a sixth Senate term. He is facing a challenge in the GOP primary this spring from Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.

The Democratic front-runner in the race is Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is Kentucky's secretary of state.



McConnell: Don’t give up on coal

Floyd County Times

PIKEVILLE — Just days before a summit to discuss ways to create an economy less dependent on coal, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell held his own gathering to shine a light on the impact environmental regulations are having on the ailing industry.

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Senate Democrats Hold Midnight Vote to Confirm Radical Left-Wing Judge

Weekly Standard

Senate Democrats have taken advantage of the nuclear option to confirm one of President Obama's most extreme judicial nominees.

All fifty-five Democratic senators and one Republicanvoted Wednesday night to cut off debate on the nomination of Cornelia Pillard to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. And at 12:52 a.m. on Thursday, 51 senators, all Democrats, voted to confirm Pillard to the country's second most important court. 


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Cornelia Pillard: Abortion is Key to Prevent 'Conscription' Into Motherhood

Cornelia Pillard: Left Wing Radical

Legal Thinking Must Shift To ‘Global Orientation,’ Abortion Key To Prevent ‘Conscription’ Into Motherhood

 ‘For Progressives … The Rights Tradition Of The U.S. Constitution Has Just About Run Out’ 

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McConnell receives annual Crime Fighter Award


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was one of two political leaders who received the Crime Fighter Award from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network on Wednesday.

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Senator McConnell Leads KY Delegation in Filing Amicus Brief at U.S. Supreme Court to Support KY Coal Jobs

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced today that he filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court to support Kentucky’s coal miners, their families, small businesses and all those negatively affected by the Administration’s War on Coal.

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McConnell: Obama 'has a difficult time telling the truth'

On the Record- Fox News



GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL says the president has a very difficult time telling it the truth. We spoke with Leader McConnell on Capitol Hill a short time ago.


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