Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had big plans for the New Year to push through federal judgeships and bills dear to his heart only to be left standing on the sideline as a spectator when President Donald Trump shut the federal government in a fit of pique because Democrats won't pay for his border wall.
According to a report at Bloomberg, McConnell planned to use an increase in the majority of Republicans in the Senate -- having picked up two more seats in the midterm elections -- to assert his continuing authority until Trump threw a wrench in his plans.
The report states McConnell "... had hoped to end last year with a deal on spending bills and a host of new federal judges. He openly mocked the idea of shutting down the government as a tried-and-failed strategy. He ended up with no new judges and a government shutdown on his watch that he now concedes could linger on for weeks."
According to the report, McConnell has absented himself from the budget talks that hold the key to re-opening the government because he hasn't got a handle on what Trump will settle for -- and can't trust him not to change his mind.
"McConnell had a deal to keep the government open. After getting positive signals from the White House, he shepherded through the Senate stopgap legislation to keep the government open through Feb. 8, deferring a battle over funding for the border wall Trump wants," Bloomberg reports before adding, "But the president wrecked those plans. After being criticized by conservatives in the media and the House, Trump denounced the temporary measure. McConnell and outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan bowed to Trump’s wishes and the shutdown was on."
Bloomberg reports that McConnell has stepped back into the shadows, letting the White House take the lead over his Senate colleagues -- some of whom are growing weary of the president.
"This time McConnell doesn’t seem to have any answers, beyond saying Democrats and the president need to cut a deal," the report states.
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated on Friday that McConnell needs to get off the bench and do something to get the government running again.
"Why is Leader McConnell shuffling off to the sidelines, pointing his fingers at everyone else and saying he won’t be involved? Probably because he realizes this president, President Trump, is erratic, unreliable, and sometimes irrational," Schumer told reporters on Friday.. "America needs Leader McConnell to get involved to stop this shutdown."
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