Mitch McConnell: Minority Leader

What can be expected from Senate Republicans in the upcoming term?  Other than gridlock and blatant partisanship, apparently not very much.

Over the weekend, new Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that, unless Democrats acquiesce to votes on President Bush’s judicial nominees, the Republicans would not hesitate to resort to the filibuster

The Senate’s next Republican leader issued a veiled threat Friday to block action on legislation if Democrats refuse to allow confirmation votes on President Bush’s troubled judicial nominations.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who will become minority leader Jan. 4, told the conservative Federalist Society not to feel bad about the Senate election results because Republicans will hold 49 seats in a body that requires 60 votes to end a filibuster and bring legislation or presidential nominees to a final vote.

If the “Democrats want our cooperation, they’ll give the president’s judicial nominees an up-or-down vote,” McConnell said.

As we’ve noted before, if McConnell and others are really concerned about judicial nominees not getting an up-or-down vote, perhaps they can start hounding Sen. Sam Brownback to lift his hold on the nomination of Janet Neff.

In addition, considering that just last year McConnell was chomping at the bit to get rid of the filibuster once and for all when it came to judges, it is sort of odd that he’d now be threatening to filibuster other things if judges don’t get votes. And does McConnell really think that even lower court judges who are voted down in Committee must get a vote, despite the clear practice to the contrary on judges as well as legislation in Senates controlled by both parties?  

This sort of bogus “Democrats-had-better-do-as-we-say” claim to bipartisanship looks to be a key part of McConnell’s strategy heading into the new session, positioning the GOP in such a way that they can try and blame Democrats for any showdowns in the Senate

“I think that they’ll have to deal with us.”

Soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s confidence could fool you. You’d think he wasn’t giving up majority digs for minority ones, the way he talks.

But he is — though you had better believe he’s ready to fight for minority rights.

In a brief interview at the Capitol with National Review Online on Thursday, the Kentucky Republican said that he has “a good personal relationship” with incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but plans on “cooperat[ing] only if they move to the center” policy-wise. He’s as curious as everyone else is if the buzz about there being more conservative Dems in the Senate now is true. “We’ll see if they really mean it.”

It is hard to understand why McConnell thinks Democrats need to “move to the center,” considering that they just picked up six seats in the Senate – five of which were held by Republicans Senators who had received 100% ranking from the joint Family Research Council Action/Focus on the Family Action voter guide and the endorsement of Gary Bauer’s Campaign for Working Families.

If anyone needs to “move to the center” it ought to be Senate Republicans, since it was five of their own right-wing colleagues who lost their seats in the last election. 

After all, it is because of these losses that McConnell is now the incoming Senate Minority Leader.