An idea for a post about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been percolating in the back of my head for a few months. It was along the theme that he was the most dangerous man in Washington. That would be based on his stonewalling of initiatives supported by President Obama, the refusal to consider the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the kneecapping of the Affordable Care Act under President Trump, and the passage of the Trump Tax giveaways to the 1%.
And I probably gave him too much credit for sitting out the partial government shutdown from December through January…thinking he was being shrewd in letting Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi take some steam out of the president and bring some authority back to Congress.
But then he went and did the inexplicable. When the president announced he would sign the bills that would end the shutdown and then declare his febrile national emergency…Sen. McConnell should have said: “No Mr. President, we aren’t going to allow that!” But he didn’t.
…Mr. McConnell had a choice. He didn’t have to acquiesce to the emergency declaration — he could have asserted the Senate’s independence at a critical time by passing the spending bill without validating Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration. If that prompted a veto, Mr. McConnell could have overridden it. That would be real leadership, and a clear assertion of the Senate’s independence. Instead, he meekly acquiesced in another presidential power grab.
So Sen. McConnell could have taken control of the situation and become the most powerful leader in Washington. But he didn’t. He sold out the Senate. He sold out the Republicans in Washington. And surprisingly he sold out himself. This isn’t his best moment.