Reviews | Growing GOP anger at Mitch McConnell offers Democrats a lesson


Republicans have staged a carnival of fake outrage since Sen. Joe Manchin III announced his support for a massive climate and health care package. Their claim: The West Virginia Democrat and his party doubled down on them by announcing a deal right after Senate Republicans helped pass an industrial policy that made us competitive with China.

There is a lesson to be learned from this for Democrats: the hardball procedure works.

You can see it in the growing GOP anger at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican, according to angry lawmakers, has been too willing to agree to bipartisan deals on legislation – allowing this alleged double crossover to happen, catching him off guard.

CNN reports new “internal tensions” within the party, with House Republicans blaming McConnell for negligently letting bipartisanship erupt on infrastructure, gun control, and the flea and science law. This bill invests $280 billion in strengthening the semiconductor industry and in scientific and technological development, and has just been passed by both chambers.

As one House Republican told CNN, Senate Republicans “lose fights because they don’t stick together.” The bizarre implication: none of them should participate in the passage of constructive legislation.

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Republicans also insist McConnell was played. He had threatened to defeat the flea bill to get Democrats to drop their push for a climate bill, and after Manchin temporarily killed that latest effort, McConnell allowed the bill to pass. measure on fleas this week.

Just hours later, Democrats and Manchin announced a renewed deal to spend hundreds of billions on climate change and health care subsidies. Now Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is seething that McConnell hasn’t “follow through” on his threat to kill the potato chip bill. Other GOP senators ripped McConnell for being tricked and caught napping.

We know why McConnell continues to let bipartisanship happen: He worries about Senate races in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona. McConnell admitted to reporters that Republicans voted for the gun bill because they had “lost ground in suburban areas.”

Either way, there’s a moral to this story for Democrats: There’s often no serious punishment for political hardliners, no matter how far it pushes the procedural envelope.

Republicans have worked vigorously to stir up outrage over the procedural handling of Democrats in all of this. House Republicans raged that the Manchin deal required them to sink the potato chip bill. Senate Republicans suspended a measure to provide health care to veterans suffering from burn pit exposure, though there is a dispute over the motive. And Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said the Democrats’ treachery would make it harder to win GOP support for a bill codifying same-sex marriage.

This is absurdly telling: the explicit admission is that the merits of the Gay Marriage Bill (and perhaps the Burn Pit Bill) are irrelevant. If the Republicans defeat this measure, it will be because the Democrats used their authority under the simple majority reconciliation process to pass something unrelated to this one!

But that aside, here’s the thing: None of this fake outrage will matter.

On the contrary, this GOP outrage attracted too much gullible media attention, which suggested that Republicans might have a legitimate gripe. Of course, they don’t: Democrats weren’t obligated to let GOP threats dictate their legislative agenda. And the idea that McConnell’s party has the right to lecture anyone about procedural slyness is positively comical.

More importantly, if Democrats pass the climate package, Democrats and many independents might view it as positively energized, and Republicans might be negatively energized by it. But hardly any voters will remember the process that led to it.

Republicans know this. They turn against McConnell precisely because the procedural details over which they feign outrage doesn’t gave them a real political weapon to wield against the Democrats, and left them baffled instead.

As Brian Beutler writes, when Republicans threaten to withhold votes on unrelated issues to dissuade Democrats from passing good legislation, it should strengthen the Democrats’ resolve to govern alone whenever necessary and see it as a positive element.

These kinds of threats are becoming the norm among Republicans, as David Dayen notes. This is another reason the Democrats shut down this game by being insensitive to it.

On the idea that it makes no sense for Democrats to let opposition or GOP outrage dictate what they adopt, we already have proof of concept. Democrats failed to pass legislation protecting democracy because Manchin insisted it had to be bipartisan and would not end the filibuster.

So how many voters remember fondly that the Democrats wisely refrained from passing anything to uphold the noble principle that partisan legislating is wrong? Most likely just remember that the Democrats failed to fulfill one major priority – that they were ineffective.

Moreover, if the current episode goes well – which is far from certain – it will unilaterally align the Democratic Party on major new investments in energy manufacturing jobs in the industrial heartland and Appalachia, while dismissing the GOP as hostile to solving the most pressing issues. problems of contemporary times.

Obviously, much will depend on the execution of these policies. But the process that leads to it will not matter. If they’re successful, being the only party associated with them – even if that means firing a quick shot at the opposition – won’t be a downside. It will be a bright spot no matter how angry Republicans get along the way.

About Therese Williams

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