As the first polling stations close on Tuesday evening, Republicans already have a reason to celebrate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has won Kentucky's Senate race. Proving that a little photobomb is not going to stop the 72-year-old, Republican McConnell beat out his Democratic rival, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, to retain the seat he first occupied in 2006. McConnell may also be well on his way to becoming the Senate Majority Leader if control of the Senate goes to the Republicans, as many pundits are predicting. But what exactly does McConnell's victory mean for the Senate? And what has he promised?
Well, he's said that he hopes to end the political gridlock, for one. The most recent (113th) Congress is set to become the least productive in modern history, plagued by indecision and bills that end in stalemate. In a weekly GOP address on Saturday, McConnell promised that the unprecedented gridlock would come to an end if he becomes the head of a Republican-controlled Senate. He told the crowd:
A new Republican majority wouldn't mean we'd be able to get everything you want from Washington. But it would mean we'd be able to bring the current legislative gridlock to a merciful end. It means we'd be able to start sending bills to the president's desk again, just as the American people expect.
With a more cohesive (read: Republican) Congress, hundreds of bills passed by the GOP-controlled House can finally be written into law, with legislation that McConnell says is intended to improve the economy for middle-class Americans will become the focus.
We want to ease the squeeze on working families. We want to improve economic opportunity. We want to make it easier for families to join the middle class. We want to increase career prospects for college graduates.
As for Senate operations themselves, McConnell vows to open things up should he become majority leader. The minority leader has criticized Majority Leader Harry Reid for not running an open amendment process, and GOP supporters believe that McConnell will reestablish the committee process and reopen the floor for amendments on both sides, which would effectively help relieve the "pent-up desire on both sides to legislate."
One thing that McConnell will have to concede on, however, is Obamacare. In an attempt to be realistic — and perhaps not make any promises he won't be able to keep — McConnell pointed out during an interview with Fox News that even if he, and a GOP majority, wanted to, repealing Obamacare is unlikely.
It would take 60 votes in the Senate. No one thinks we're going to have 60 Republicans. And it would take a presidential signature. No one thinks we're going to get that.
But that doesn't mean McConnell's just going to leave it untouched completely. If a full repeal is impossible, then he'll work around it by repealing aspects of the law that are widely unpopular, even to Democrats.
I'd like to put the Senate Democrats in the position of voting on the most unpopular parts of this law, and see if we can put it on the president's desk and make him take real ownership of this highly destructive Obamacare.
Doesn't exactly sound like political gridlock coming to an end.
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