Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is in a unique position to keep the U.S. military in Iraq, and keep the Iraq war going and "stay the course":
"House Republicans Learn to Appreciate Their Senate Peers
"By: Patrick O'Connor
"March 20, 2007 03:43 PM EST url:
"* * *
"Much of the Democrats' early "Six for '06" agenda and legislation to ease organizing requirements for labor unions are stalled in the Senate, preventing Democrats from delivering on their campaign promises.
"And on the most pressing issue, Republicans have joined forces to thwart early Democratic efforts to force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) have corralled the votes necessary to block binding and nonbinding measures in the Senate to limit the president's execution of the war. And House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) claims his members are unified against a wartime spending bill that would, among other things, set mandates for the U.S. military and benchmarks for the Iraqi government aimed at speeding a U.S. withdrawal.
"But Republicans in both chambers are keeping a close eye on each other -- as well as the White House -- to make sure neither side buckles in what could be a protracted showdown between Republicans and Democrats over the war.
"I have no doubt at all" that McConnell and Lott will continue to block Democratic legislation, Boehner said. "They're an effective team."
"That confidence was lacking last year when Republicans controlled both chambers and then-Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was serving out his term as majority leader. Frist, a heart surgeon, often exhibited more pride in his role as physician than his role as legislator. And he angered Republicans in the House and Senate alike for his perceived inability to manage the floor and complete legislative deals.
"While McConnell at times can be a stilted media messenger, he and Lott are widely recognized as skilled strategists with a strong grasp of the rules and deep support from fellow Republicans.
"Nonetheless, Republican congressional leaders run the risk of saddling their members with the obstructionist label if the GOP continues to block measures in the Senate. That label helped sink former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota in 2004 when critics blamed him for stalling legislation as minority leader.
"Since both Lott and McConnell are firmly entrenched in their respective states, they don't run the same risk that Daschle did. But other Republicans could suffer in 2008 if Democrats tag them as obstructionists.
"One more factor bonding the Republicans in both chambers, members and staff point out, is the large number of former House members and aides now serving in the Senate.
"At a recent news conference to unveil conservative budget principles, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who chairs the Republican Study Committee, teased his Senate counterpart, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), about the Senate's new role in slowing the Democrats' legislative march.
"It's amazing how in one Congress y'all have gone from sinners to saints," Hensarling quipped."
Saints? Christian gunmen? No, slowing the Democrats' legislative march does not make Mitch McConnell a saint. It makes him a target for the Democrats to vote out of office in his state of Kentucky where a majority of the registered voters are registered Democrats. Kenneth Stepp, a Democrat.