Mitch McConnell

McConnell Still Doesn’t See Path for Obamacare Repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Reuters that he “has yet to hit upon a formula for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a new healthcare program.”

Said McConnell: “I don’t know how we get to 50 votes at the moment. But that’s the goal.”

He declined to provide any timetable for producing even a draft bill to show to rank-and-file Republican senators and gauge their support.

McConnell Rejects Call for Special Prosecutor

“Before President Trump was even sworn into office, congressional Republicans made a pledge: They would be a check on executive power, they said, often making the independence of the legislative branch a centerpiece of their own election campaigns last year,” the New York Times reports.

“But on Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the majority leader, sought to give the beleaguered administration significant cover, strongly defending the firing of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and resisting calls to challenge Mr. Trump and support a broader inquiry of Russian interference in the election.”

Politico: “After a flurry of GOP statements Tuesday night criticizing Trump for axing Comey so suddenly, there were no new Republican calls on Wednesday for a special prosecutor or select committee to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections or possible collusion with the Trump campaign.”

Schumer Headed for Epic Clash with McConnell

Politico: “At their first sit-down as party leaders in December, Chuck Schumer pledged to tell Mitch McConnell exactly what’s on his mind going forward — no subterfuge or backbiting. ‘You and Harry didn’t get along,’ Schumer recalled saying, referring to his predecessor, Harry Reid. ‘Each of you thought the other was a liar. But I’ve learned in life if people think people are liars, sometimes they misconceive things when they don’t know the whole story.’ Schumer went on: ‘Mitch, I’m from Brooklyn. I will tell you what I think. Sometimes you’ll like it, sometimes you won’t. But I’m not going to try to surprise you.’ Schumer wasn’t kidding about laying it all out in the open.”

“The Democratic leader is now predicting victory over McConnell in two partisan confrontations about to come to a head, over the Supreme Court vacancy and a potential government shutdown. Never mind that the Democratic Party is in its weakest state in more than a decade.”

Is McConnell’s Plan to Lose Fast?

Jonathan Chait: “Trumpcare may or may not grind out enough votes to pass the House. In the Senate, it’s hopelessly short of the 50 votes it needs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has laid out a wildly aggressive time frame, under which his chamber would essentially xerox the House bill and pass it into law within a few days — no hearings, no negotiations. A few weeks ago, I suggested the possibility that McConnell’s plan was not wildly aggressive but actually designed to fail. His latest comments make this scenario seem far more likely.”

Said McConnell: “We’re not slowing down. We will reach a conclusion on health care next week. We’ll either pass something that will achieve a goal that we’ve been working on. Or not.”

“The only possible way a health-care bill could pass the Senate would be a heroic feat of negotiation to bridge the chasm between Republicans who think the House bill provides too much care (Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz) and those who think it provides too little (a group numbering perhaps as many as a dozen, depending on how one interprets various fretting remarks). Republicans can lose no more than two votes in the upper chamber.”

McConnell Won’t Seek Democratic Votes

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Republicans will repeal and replace the health care law and overhaul the tax code without Democratic help or votes, the AP reports.

Said McConnell: “It’s clear that in the early months it’s going to be a Republicans-only exercise. We don’t expect any Democratic cooperation on the replacement of Obamacare, we don’t expect any Democratic cooperation on tax reform.”

Caitlin Owens: “Republicans can’t do everything they want to on health care without Democratic votes, under Senate rules. They can do a lot through a process called budget reconciliation, which allows them to pass budget-related policy with just 51 votes. But they can’t touch central elements of Obamacare.”

McConnell Says Trump Makes It Harder on Himself

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told the Weekly Standard that President Trump’s approval rating would be “10 to 15 points higher if he allowed himself to stay on message.”

McConnell said he likes “what the president is doing,” citing deregulation efforts, his Supreme Court nominee, and Cabinet picks. But “what he’s saying makes everything harder.”

McConnell Wakes Up the Left

First Read: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a shrewd tactician… But we’re not sure if his decision to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for reading Coretta Scott King’s letter opposing Jeff Sessions from back in the 1980s was a smart play.”

“If the goal was to keep people from reading/hearing that letter, well, that backfired…. If the goal was to keep Warren from repeating her message, well, that didn’t work… And if the goal was to help Sessions with his Democratic colleagues, well, that didn’t go over well, either.”

Rick Klein: “Sessions will still be confirmed as attorney general on Wednesday, and Warren will be allowed to speak on the Senate floor again after that happens. The lasting impact of this week in the Senate, however, may be massive.”

“For starters, lamentations of fierce partisanship resulted in the formal rebuke and silencing of a liberal hero – and with no apparent larger reason. (Senators have said worse of each other, and Republicans have the ultimate silencing weapon – the majority.) More broadly, the organizing energy that began outside of Washington now has outlet inside of it. Between Betsy DeVos, Sessions, and now Andrew Puzder, the Trump Cabinet has woken up the left without even actually doing anything.”

McConnell Says GOP Pleased with Trump So Far

New York Times: “Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and the majority leader, says he and his Senate Republican colleagues are quite satisfied with the Trump team so far. In fact, he said, they are reassured by signs that President Trump is going to hew to a conservative agenda after early fears that the president — a relatively unknown quantity to most elected Republicans — might not really be one of them.”

Said McConnell: “I think there is a high level of satisfaction with the new administration. Our members are not obsessed with the daily tweets, but are looking at the results.”

McConnell Rebukes Trump’s Attack on Judge

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “distanced himself from President Trump’s positions on Russia, voter fraud and the travel ban, while criticizing the president for attacking a federal judge,” Politico reports.

Said McConnell: “It is best not to single out judges. We all get disappointed from time to time. I think it is best to avoid criticizing them individually.”