News & Politics

The Ruthless Determination of Mitch McConnell: Here Are 5 Times the Top Republican Sought Victory at Any Cost

The Senate majority leader has wielded power like few others before him have.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

If Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, some of the credit in the Republican Party will go to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—who has shown himself to be a fierce, vindictive partisan who puts party over principle time and time again. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be a lifetime appointment; regardless, McConnell has no interest in giving President Trump’s nominee an adequate vetting—he is determined to ram the nomination through the Senate as quickly as possible. This type of behavior is nothing new for the Kentucky Republican, who has refused to give even an inch in the Trump era. And how well Democratic Senate candidates do or don’t perform in the 2018 midterms could either give McConnell more power in the Senate or reduce his power in the Senate. Certainly, there’s nothing McConnell would hate more than hearing Democrat Chuck Schumer described as “Senate Majority Leader Schumer” in 2019.

Here are five examples of McConnell’s win-at-any-cost mentality.

1. McConnell Refused to Hold Hearings on Judge Merrick Garland’s Nomination

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President Barack Obama obviously wasn’t looking for the next Earl Warren when, on March 16, 2016, he nominated Judge Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court. Garland was a decidedly centrist pick on Obama’s part. But McConnell didn’t want to see a centrist or an Obama nominee fill what had been the late Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, and McConnell did something unprecedented when he refused to even consider Garland. McConnell declared that with 2016 being a presidential election year, it would be inappropriate to give Garland any hearings in the Senate. McConnell’s contempt for Obama was so deep that the High Court seat remained vacant for over a year, and McConnell even bragged about it when, during a speech he Kentucky, he declared, “One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, ‘Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.’”

2. McConnell Rammed Neil Gorsuch’s Confirmation Through the Senate as Quickly as Possible

McConnell has two sets of standards for Supreme Court nominees. If they are nominated by Democratic presidents, it is important to take one’s time. But if they are nominated by Republican presidents, they must be confirmed in a hurry. After Trump won the presidential election in November 2016 and was sworn in as president in January 2017, it didn’t take him long to find a Supreme Court nominee—and the confirmation process for Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch moved swiftly in the Senate. By April 2017, Gorsuch was sitting on the Supreme Court.

3. McConnell Tried to Deprive 23 Million Americans of Health Insurance

In 2017, the Senate under McConnell’s leadership came close to depriving 23 million Americans of health insurance. The American Health Care Act, a Senate bill that would have overturned and replaced the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare, received a terrible review from the Congressional Budget Office—which reported that by 2026, it would have resulted in a staggering 23 million Americans becoming uninsured. But McConnell didn’t care; for the Senate majority leader, overturning one of Obama’s achievements was of much greater importance to him than the wellbeing of Americans. However, the American Health Care Act was defeated when three Republican senators—Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and the late John McCain of Arizona—joined Senate Democrats in voting against it.

4. McConnell Wants Brett Kavanaugh Confirmed Without a Proper Vetting

Some Senate Democrats who are critical of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, have argued that they should invoke the “McConnell rule”—meaning that if Senate hearings on Garland were out of the question because it was an election year, hearings on Kavanaugh could wait because of the 2018 midterms. The “McConnell rule,” however, only applies to Democratic nominations; Trump nominees are exempt. McConnell is as hypocritical as he is ruthless, and he has done everything possible to ram Kavanaugh’s confirmation through in a hurry.

5. McConnell Never Let GOP Tax Overhaul Have a Thorough Analysis

After the defeat of the American Health Care Act, McConnell was determined to make sure that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 wouldn’t suffer the same fate—and it didn’t. A massive overhaul of U.S. tax policy and a huge giveaway for the 1%, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act should have received a thorough analysis in the Senate. Instead, it was rammed through hastily. And the U.S. can look forward to a massive federal deficit as a result.

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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.