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Tags: mcconnell | senate | obamacare | keystone | appropriations

McConnell's Goal: Moving Senate That 'Didn't Do Squat for Years'

McConnell's Goal: Moving Senate That 'Didn't Do Squat for Years'
(Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 23 December 2014 08:07 AM EST

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking to shake things up when he takes over in January, with the aim of transforming the Republican Party into one that is more willing to pass legislation than veto it.

In an interview with The New York Times, the Kentucky Republican said he will be working to change the party's mindset from one of opposition, giving it new momentum to legislate and govern.

"One of my challenges is to try to convince some of my members that passing an appropriations bill is a good thing, not a bad thing," McConnell told the Times.

"The Senate basically didn't do squat for years. I don't think most members of the Senate wanted it run that way."

McConnell said that Democrats have encouraged him in his approach.

He has promised to give room for both parties to participate in floor debate and offer amendments, a marked departure from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's approach.

To that end, McConnell has already extended the Senate workweek to include Fridays, and the chamber will also convene for the full first six weeks of 2015.

"It will be more chaotic, there will probably be later nights," McConnell told the Times. "The goal is to let the Senate express its views."

The first measure that will advance to the floor will be legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which was narrowly defeated last month.

A move to repeal the Affordable Care Act is also slated, though unlikely to pass while President Barack Obama is still in office. A more likely course to undermine Obamacare will be in a piecemeal approach.

McConnell may also take up the call by members of his own party to reverse the change of filibuster rules put in place by Reid, which enabled filibusters on presidential nominees to be broken by a simple majority vote instead of 60 votes.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain is a proponent of such a move, though McConnell has not signaled his enthusiasm to take it to the floor.

McConnell has also looked for areas to collaborate with the president. Based on his private meeting with Obama last month, he said the focus will likely be on the areas of tax reform, trade promotion, and infrastructure spending, the Times reported.

He may also advance legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. And immigration reform will be on the agenda, but he didn't indicate what direction lawmakers would take.

The Times said McConnell believes that annual appropriations bills are the best way the GOP can undermine policies by the administration which it opposes, emphasizing that it's important for the party to act to pass the spending bills rather than using tactics to block them.

"Many of my members are not used to voting for appropriations bills," McConnell told the Times.

"But if we are going to pursue our agenda to push back against the bureaucratic overreach seemingly on steroids for the last five or six years, we need to put appropriations bills on the president's desk and make him make a choice."

McConnell, who has reportedly aspired to take up the role of Senate majority leader since he was a schoolboy, said he has a clear idea of the type of leadership he will provide in that role. 

"I have studied this job and reached my own conclusions about how it ought to be done," McConnell said. "It has been a long wait."

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Newsfront
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking to shake things up when he takes over in January, with the aim of transforming the Republican Party into one that is more willing to pass legislation than veto it.
mcconnell, senate, obamacare, keystone, appropriations
574
2014-07-23
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 08:07 AM
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