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McConnell Faces Increased Scrutiny as New Reports Highlight Unprecedented Obstruction, Ties to Special Interests

McConnell-led Senate has held the “fewest legislative debates of any in recent memory” — and in the wake of horrific mass shootings, McConnell has once again “made no commitments” to act on bipartisan calls for gun safety reform

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing well-deserved scrutiny of his decades-long record in Washington, as new reports increasingly shed light on his blockade of bipartisan efforts to pass gun safety legislation, his efforts to oppose campaign finance reform, and his pivotal role in dragging the Senate into unprecedented gridlock and dysfunction. Just last month, McConnell led his spineless majority in blocking legislation to protect our elections from foreign interference, even after a bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Russia targeted all 50 states in the last presidential election.

Meanwhile, McConnell continues to earn his status as Washington’s most self-serving creature. His former top staffers are leading efforts to lobby for the controversial development of a new Kentucky plant backed by a Russian aluminum giant that invested $200 million after McConnell personally intervened to help lift U.S. sanctions on the company. McConnell took millions in campaign contributions from owners of the same company in the 2016 election cycle.

“On issue after issue that Americans care about, Mitch McConnell is blocking progress and promoting unprecedented gridlock and dysfunction in the Senate while he continues to grease the wheels for his political allies,” said DSCC spokesperson Stewart Boss. “From thwarting commonsense gun safety reforms like expanding background checks to opposing campaign finance reform and blocking bipartisan measures to secure our elections, McConnell keeps proving that he only cares about serving himself and his special interest friends.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

New York Times: McConnell Promised to End Senate Gridlock. Instead, Republicans Are Stuck in Neutral.

  • Seven months into a new era of divided government, the Republican-led Senate limped out of Washington this week after the fewest legislative debates of any in recent memory, without floor votes on issues that both parties view as urgent: the high cost of prescription drugs, a broken immigration system and crumbling infrastructure.
  • The number of Senate roll call votes on amendments — a key indicator of whether lawmakers are engaged in free and open debate — plummeted to only 18 this year, according to a review of congressional data. During the same time period in the 10 previous Congresses, senators took anywhere from 34 to 231 amendment votes.
  • …the Senate, once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” is operating exactly as Mr. McConnell now wants it to: as an approval factory for President Trump’s judicial and administration nominees.
  • But the Senate’s legislative record on domestic issues has been so thin that a number of Republicans were left grasping for words when asked to name the chamber’s most significant legislative achievement this year.

Louisville Courier-Journal: Despite back-to-back mass shootings, McConnell unlikely to accept gun control legislation

  • Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell is facing renewed and intense pressure to have the U.S. Senate do something after back-to-back shootings killed more than two dozen people over the weekend.
  • This year, McConnell, who declined a request for further comment left with his office, has ignored multiple gun-control measures passed by the Democrat-controlled House.
  • [The National Rifle Association]… has rewarded him with more than $1.2 million in contributions in his career, according to a database compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
  • “We should all be free to live without the fear of being shot,” said Cathy Mekus, a leader with the Louisville chapter of Moms Demand Action, an anti-gun violence group. “Once again, gun violence is tearing apart the lives of Americans. … I hope the pressure gets to Sen. McConnell, and I hope he will see fit to bring this to the floor of the Senate for a vote.”
  • McConnell’s support from the gun lobby has helped fuel his political career since his first reelection.

New York Times: One Man Could Decide Washington’s Response to Gun Violence: Mitch McConnell

  • For two decades, through Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown, Orlando, Las Vegas and the rest, mass shootings have provoked only scant action in Congress. Now, after horrific back-to-back massacres this weekend, people in both parties agree that one man could change that: Senator Mitch McConnell.
  • As President Trump urged national unity in the face of “racist hate” without endorsing broad gun control measures, Democrats and a handful of Republicans called on Monday for Mr. McConnell, the majority leader, to bring up legislation to require gun buyers — including those on the internet and at gun shows — to go through background checks.
  • Mr. McConnell… made no commitments.
  • With Congress in recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, demanded that Mr. McConnell bring back the Senate — something he is highly unlikely to do — to consider a House background checks bill, which passed in February.

NPR: Mitch McConnell Has Long Argued For More Money In Politics

  • Senate Majority Leader McConnell is one of the few politicians who argues for more money in politics. His stance led to a decades-long fight with Sen. John McCain, who pushed for donation limits.
  • McConnell has never strayed from his belief that there should be more money in politics, not less.
  • Basically every year in the late 1980s and in the 1990s, McConnell successfully blocked tough campaign finance regulations.
  • McCain did eventually pass a campaign finance law. But in 2010, the Supreme Court, in the Citizens United case, allowed unlimited corporate and union spending on elections. Mitch McConnell called it a terrific decision.
  • His side of the argument, at least for now, has won out. Many expect that all the spending by campaigns, superPACs and other outside groups will make the 2020 election the most expensive in history.

POLITICO: Ex-McConnell staffers lobbied on Russian-backed Kentucky project

  • Two former top staffers to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have lobbied Congress and the Treasury Department on the development of a new Kentucky aluminum mill backed by the Russian aluminum giant Rusal, according to a new lobbying disclosure.
  • The disclosure comes as Democrats are pushing the Trump administration to review Rusal’s $200 million investment in the Kentucky project — concerned that the mill will supply the Defense Department — and as McConnell weathers criticism for helping block a congressional effort to stop the investment.
  • …McConnell’s office declined to comment on whether they had [directly lobbied McConnell’s office over the aluminum mill project].

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Constituents, Local Editorial Boards Call on Republican Senators to Take Action to Stop Gun Violence

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