A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Letter to the editor: Kimberly Kennedy asks, ‘What died on Mitch McConnell’s desk?’ and why it matters

If there’s one thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it’s that Mitch McConnell must GO.

Americans need forward progress on legislation that impacts their health, welfare, and economics—including coronavirus relief. As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell chooses which bills are put on the calendar for debate and vote. But Mitch is Congress’s Kingpin of Obstruction: House-passed bills have died on Mitch’s desk because he refused to hold a vote.

Mitch McConnell

We’re talking hundreds of bills that received (at least some) bipartisan support that would impact everyday Americans. He’s the Grim Reaper of democracy; in fact, he chose that moniker. So, even though McConnell’s campaign ads boast of his work to pass the CARES coronavirus bill, he stonewalled the HEROES Act — for months. Americans wanted Trump to drain the swamp — Mitch IS the swamp.

• How did one man get so much power?

Over McConnell’s more than 3-decade tenure, he wielded power over Republican senators. If they voted in opposition, they were punished by, for example, revoking their capitol dining room or gym privileges, canceling diplomatic missions, sabotaging campaign fundraising efforts, or dismissing them from select committees. GOP Senators thus became his enablers.

• The GOP became the Party of NO.

In 2009, McConnell attended covert party meetings where they hatched the plan to undermine Obama’s presidency through one mandate: Just say NO to negotiation, to compromise, to cooperation. Whenever Democrats offered to negotiate legislation, Republican senators remarked that they were instructed by McConnell not to cooperate. Former Senator George Voinovich remarked, “If [Obama] was for it…we had to be against it.” Senator Joe Biden recalled, “The way it was characterized to me was, ‘For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything.’”

• Let that sink in.

McConnell’s goal was NOT to do what’s best for Kentuckians — it was to win, to see Obama fail. Never mind that if any president fails, the country suffers.

Today, McConnell’s rationale for his legislative morgue is that he’s not willing to entertain legislation passed by a Democrat-controlled House. Thus, little gets done. In 2019, Senator Chris Murphy remarked that McConnell had “effectively turned the United States Senate into a very expensive lunch club that occasionally votes on a judge or two.”

• What died on Mitch’s desk?

There is legislation:

• To increase access to healthcare, health insurance, and lower-cost drugs.
• To raise the minimum wage and close the gender pay gap.
• To protect consumers and college students from deceptive, predatory, discriminatory banking practices.
• To address foreign and domestic terrorism and veteran affairs, including tax relief and child care.
• To improve Internet access, cost, and speed.
• To address violence against women and discrimination based on religious affiliation or sexual orientation.
• To build a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
• To address gun violence with common-sense measures the majority of Americans support.
• To address climate change by investing in sustainable energy, creating jobs.
• To tackle government corruption, increasing oversight, securing elections and voting rights, ending gerrymandering, and curbing the influence of money.

But McConnell told guests at a fundraiser, “If I’m still the majority leader of the Senate [in 2021], none of those things are going to pass the Senate. They won’t even be voted on.” Do those sound like the words of a man who respects democracy, who cares about the lives of Kentuckians — or his party and donors?

Kimberly Kennedy

We elected McConnell and trusted we could relax while he did his job, fighting for our interests. When we weren’t looking, McConnell abused our trust.

And for that, he must go.

Kimberly Kennedy is a freelance writer and mom working toward a better and more just America. She lives in Villa Hills. She can be found on one of Kentucky’s magnificent hiking trails. You can reach her here.

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  1. Marv Dunn says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with the writer! I’ve already voted for Amy but honestly I don’t think she can win. Kentucky has to many single issue voters: i.e. guns and/or abortion. McConnell’s golden opportunity to help Northern Kentucky was when he was Majority Leader, John Boehner was Speaker and Massie represented us. McConnell and Boehner seemed uninterested and did little to help us with the bridge and Massie, as usual, just sreamed “NO, NO, NO”. I think the best we can hope for is that the rest of the country will bail us out and flip the Senate effectively neutering McConnell.

  2. Ruth Bamberger says:

    Well stated, Kimberly! Moreover, McConnell has argued that he won’t move any bills unless he knows that Trump will support them. This behavior as a Majority Leader suggests that he no longer understands checks and balances or separation of powers, so fundamental in our Constitution. Congress is now hostage to a President whose incompetency speaks volumes. KY voters will do a tremendous favor to the state and country by electing McGrath.

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