The end of an era of Senate Democrat control comes to a much-anticipated close this week and with it the much-maligned do-nothing reputation it has earned under Harry Reid.
Incoming Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to reverse that reputation and get the Senate moving again with a novel goal: legislating. Under Democrat leadership, the Senate became known for the exception rather than the rule as bills – especially Republican bills – almost never made it to the floor for a vote.
McConnell explained his plans in a New York Times interview, “The Senate basically didn’t do squat for years. I don’t think most members of the Senate wanted it run that way. It will be more chaotic, there will probably be later nights. The goal is to let the Senate express its views.”
In concert with changes to that end, McConnell has already added Fridays back to the Senate schedule with a full agenda slated for the first six weeks of the new session in starting January.
And among the first order of business is a move to push through formal approval for the Keystone pipeline, which failed just after the midterm elections when outgoing Democrat senators still had a vote. Republicans intend to force Obama to veto the bill, which will certainly hurt his party ahead of the 2016 elections.
McConnell continued, “Many of my members are not used to voting for appropriations bills. But if we are going to pursue our agenda to push back against the bureaucratic overreach seemingly on steroids for the last five or six years, we need to put appropriations bills on the president’s desk and make him make a choice.”