Mitch McConnell Trashes Harry Reid; Previews Senate GOP Takeover
During a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell trashed Sen. Harry Reid for his leadership in the Senate and hinted at what he would do should Republicans win the majority in the 2014 elections.
“I don’t mind saying that Sen. Reid has done tremendous damage to the Senate,” McConnell said, pointing out that the Senate had become a “graveyard of good ideas and serious open debate.”
McConnell said that Reid had coalesced much of the power in the Senate - keeping even members of his own party from offering amendments.
“He has muzzled the people’s representatives, and through them, the people themselves,” McConnell stated.
McConnell insisted that under his leadership the Senate would “break away from the Reid era” and offer a more “freewheeling approach.”
But McConnell cautioned conservatives from having too many expectations should Republicans win the Senate, pointing out that it was unlikely that they would win a 60 vote majority in November.
“Don’t assume that everything we want to do can get 60 votes. It is going to be a challenging experience,” he said. “But it is important to be able to set the agenda.”
He stated that unlike Reid, Republicans would work with Democrats to pass legislation and bring the Senate back to the 60 vote threshold.
“I think the supermajority requirement in the Senate has been important for the country,” McConnell said, acknowledging that it could be frustrating to try to get a governing consensus in the Senate.
“Reid did a lot of damage,” McConnell added, calling Reid's employment of the nuclear option as a bad precedent.
“They basically changed the rules of the Senate by breaking the rules of the Senate,” he said.
McConnell refused to discuss what he planned to do about the precedent that Reid set, suggesting that it was a conversation he would have with his colleagues in December if Republicans won the majority. He did, however, signal that he would not use the nuclear option to pass legislation.
“I do not favor turning the Senate into a majoritarian institution in the Senate even though we would probably have some short term advantage by doing it," he said.
McConnell joked at the beginning of his speech that he was pleased that he won his primary against Matt Bevin.
“If things had turned out differently in Kentucky Tuesday, this could have been a fairly awkward presentation,” he said as the crowd laughed.