House Democrats are passing bills, blame Grim Reaper McConnell for gridlock

You frequently hear the talking point made by Republicans in Washington and their mouthpieces on conservative talk radio: Since winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, the Democrats have done nothing except fixate on investigating President Trump.

That’s a lie.

The truth is that the Democrats in the House have used their majority to pass about 190 bills, only to see almost all of them sit in the Senate and die.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems quite proud of maintaining the Washington gridlock. Don’t look for compromise, don’t try to get the people’s business done, just stop the Democrats from claiming any success and have others blame them when nothing gets done.

"Think of me as the Grim Reaper,” McConnell told community leaders in Owensboro, a town in his home state of Kentucky, back in April. “None of that stuff is going to pass."

McConnell is consistent in his strategy, give him that. This is the same guy who, in October 2010, outlined that his top priority was not balancing budgets, or improving the economy, or helping the middle class.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve,” McConnell, then the minority leader, told an interviewer, “is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Well, that didn’t work, and hopefully voters will be savvy enough to punish McConnell and the Republicans in 2020 for adopting Grim-Reaper gridlock as their strategy.

“I’ve been through quite a bit of time of gridlock in my years I’ve been there. This takes the prize,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, when he met with our editorial board last week. He's been there since 2007.

“The Senate has just been a graveyard,” Courtney said. Appropriate for the Grim Reaper.

Of course there are progressive proposals that the Republican Senate won’t go near. And it has taken up and passed a few bills providing veterans benefits, keeping the lights on in Washington with a budget deal and extending care for 9/11 responders (but only after McConnell was embarrassed by comedian Jon Stewart).

But some of the stuff McConnell has blocked is ridiculous, such as the “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act.”

“People are desperate for the telecommunication companies to work with the FCC to stop this stuff. Why you can’t get some response from the other chamber on stuff as noncontroversial as that is just ...” said Courtney, ending in a rare loss for words.

Or the “All-American Flag Act” that would require flags purchased by the federal government to be made in America with American materials.

Not surprising, I guess, that Senate Republicans would not take up the House bill to raise the federal minimum wage, at $7.50 since 2007, to $15. But couldn’t Senate Republicans provide a counter proposal, say $10?

Then there are bills that have broad support among the American people but that Republicans oppose, in one case to appease the NRA, in another to keep President Trump’s base stirred up about the immigration issue.

The House passed enhanced federal firearms background checks, giving the FBI more time to complete them. If the law had been in place in 2015, the white supremacist who walked into a black church in Charleston, S.C., and murdered nine congregants would not have been able to buy the gun he used.

And Democrats voted to provide permanent legal status to so-called Dreamers, young people brought to this country illegally by their parents as children, but who have lived law-abiding lives and want the opportunity to fully participate in the American Dream.

No Senate action.

Keep it up, Grim Reaper, and it might be your own party you bury.

Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.

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