Fresh off his resounding Republican primary victory Tuesday night, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday laid out a broad vision of what the Senate would look like under his control.
Bottom line, McConnell, wouldn’t run the way Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., runs it now, the Kentucky Republican told the center-right American Enterprise Institute.
‘A Senate majority under my leadership would break sharply from the practices of the Reid era in favor of a more free-wheeling approach to problem solving,’ McConnell said in a speech. ‘I would work to restore (the Senate’s) traditional role as a place where good ideas are generated, debated and voted upon. We’d fire up the committee process. We’d work longer days and weeks, using the clock to force consensus.’
And McConnell’s money shot: ‘In marked contrast to the Reid era, we would allow an open amendment process – ensuring senators on both sides a chance to weigh in on legislation and alleviating the frustration that inevitably results when they can’t.’
McConnell and Republicans believe the Senate is within their grasp this election year. They need a net gain of six seats in November to gain control of the chamber.
Last November, Reid and the Democratic-controlled Senate changed the chamber’s long-standing rules to strip the Republican minority of its filibuster power to block many presidential nominations, a move that makes it easier to confirmed President Barack Obama’s appointees but increased partisan tensions in an already acrimonious chamber.
Reid said he pulled the trigger on the so-called ‘nuclear option’ to stem what he considered obstruction of Obama nominees and agenda by the Republican minority.
Needless to say, McConnell’s AEI remarks Thursday didn’t impress Reid.
‘Senator McConnell – the self-declared ‘proud guardian of gridlock’ – has done more to bring gridlock and obstruction to Washington than any single individual in Senate history,’ said Adam Jentleson, a Reid spokesman. ‘…Senator McConnell’s legacy is one of blind, knee-jerk obstruction against any and all efforts to help the middle class, regardless of the merits. Senator McConnell’s desperate plea of ‘this time I’ll change, I swear, is belied by his long record as the leading force for gridlock and obstruction in Washington.’
McConnell told AEI that Reid has done ‘tremendous damage to the Senate’ under his tenure and turned the chamber ‘into a graveyard for good ideas and serious, open debate.’
‘His propensity to block amendments, even on his own side, has prevented for years the organic development of policy that has always characterized the Senate at its best,’ McConnell said.