Mitch McConnell: Year in Review
January: McConnell Called Himself Bush's "Strongest Supporter" On Iraq. In an interview discussing Iraq and the President's proposed troop escalation, McConnell described himself as "the strongest supporter of the president you could find in the Senate on this effort."
February: McConnell Blocked Senate Escalation Debate, Arguing Many GOPers Don't Want a Debate. Leading the fight to block a Senate debate on Iraq in February, McConnell said, "let me just say there are many members on my side who would argue that we shouldn't be having this debate this week at all." Headlines across the country accused the McConnell-led Senate Republicans of blocking the essential debate.
March: McConnell Holds Muti-Million Dollar Fundraiser With Bush, While Fighting his Battles in the Senate. On March 1, the Washington Times ran a headline that said, "McConnell fighting Bush's battles in Senate." The next day, President Bush traveled to Kentucky for a fundraiser with McConnell that raised $2.1 million for McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
April: McConnell Voted Against War Funding Bill That Would have Set a New Course in Iraq. In April, McConnell voted against a $124 billion Fiscal Year 2007 Supplemental spending bill, which would have begun bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by October 1, with a goal of having most troops home by March 31, 2008. In addition to the withdrawal, the bill provided billions of dollars for military equipment and health care for active duty military and returning veterans.
May: McConnell Endorsed Scandal-Plagued Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Saying He Had "Never Met a Finer Man." In May, McConnell endorsed Republican Ernie Fletcher for Governor of Kentucky, saying, "I have never met a finer man than our governor, Ernie Fletcher." In 2006, Fletcher was indicted on three misdemeanor charges for allegedly doling out state jobs to political supporters. The indictments came after Fletcher pleaded the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer questions before a grand jury. In August 2006, Fletcher admitted to wrongdoing in his administration as part of an agreement to drop the charges, but a grand jury report released later said that Fletcher oversaw a "widespread and coordinated plan" to avoid state hiring laws. Fletcher also pardoned every member of his administration that was involved with the scandal.
June: McConnell Held Up Essential Ethics Reform and 9/11 Commission Recommendations.On a single day in June, McConnell blocked congressional Democrats' attempts to move forward with a sweeping lobbying reform bill and a bill to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
July: Republican Senator Accuses McConnell of "Dereliction of Duty" for Actions on Immigration. In July, columnist Bob Novak wrote, "I asked one of the few conservative Republican senators who stuck with President Bush on immigration to assess how Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell handled the issue. Asking not to be quoted by name, he replied: ‘If this were a war, Sen. McConnell should be relieved of command for dereliction of duty.' Not only did the minority leader end up voting against an immigration bill that he said was better than the 2006 version he supported, he abandoned his post, staying off the floor during final stages of the debate."
August: McConnell Led the Fight Against Expanding Health Care to Over 3 Million Uninsured Children. In August McConnell voted against bipartisan legislation to expand children's health care to an additional 3.2 million kids across America. The day before, McConnell voted for and cosponsored a watered down bill that would have eliminated coverage for 3.2 million kids that were covered under the bipartisan proposal. The GOP alternative also changed reimbursement rules putting the coverage of hundreds of thousands of children in danger.
September: McConnell Pledged to "Support the President" in Opposition to Children's Health Bill. In September, along with voting against the initial version of the children's health bill, McConnell signaled he would vote "no" on the final version of the bill as well, saying, "I intend to support the president."
October: McConnell Knew That His Office Spread Erroneous Rumors Against Child, But He Still Claimed There Was No Involvement. In October, a McConnell aide admitted that he had sent an email to reporters highlighting charges made on conservative blogs accusing the family of a child who helped promote the children's health program of being undeserving of federal assistance. McConnell was aware that his staff was personally involved in smearing the family. But asked in an interview if his office had encouraged reporters to investigate the family of a young boy who had promoted the SCHIP program, McConnell repeatedly denied any involvement adding, "there was no involvement whatsoever….None."
November: McConnell's Handpicked Governor Loses Reelection Bid By 18-Points. In November, McConnell's handpicked Kentucky Gubernatorial candidate, Ernie Fletcher lost his bid for reelection. Not only had McConnell picked and encouraged Fletcher to run in 2003, but he also heavily campaign for him in his 2007 race. In the final days of the campaign, McConnell appeared with Fletcher and praised him as "extremely intelligent" and of "wonderful character," McConnell even recorded radio ads for Fletcher calling him "the best governor for Louisville in my lifetime…"
December: McConnell Tried to Justify Iraq Deaths by Saying That the Soldiers Weren't "Draftees" In December, the Grayson County News Gazette reported that McConnell said, "I won't tell you everything is great in Iraq; it is not. But we want to keep a steady flow of funds so that we don't disrupt the military. Unfortunately, most of our friends on the other isle are having a hard time admitting things are getting better; some days I almost think the critics of this war don't want us to win. Nobody is happy about losing lives but remember these are not draftees, these are full-time professional soldiers."