Published on: Dec 8, 2014
Sen. Mitch McConnell, soon to take over as Senate Majority Leader, is not the most dynamic speaker to have ever stood before a microphone in Washington nor is he, as my regular readers may have gathered, my favorite Republican. I have a number of issues with the Senator and have expressed them in the past, so in fairness when I believe he might finally be right I will say so. Last night in an interview on Fox News’ “On the Record” with Greta Van Susteren, Senator McConnell offered a plan to stop President Obama’s executive amnesty program without a government shutdown that I believe will work.
Although McConnell would not be my choice for Majority Leader, his less than fiery demeanor is well suited to lead the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body”, and after watching the twenty-minute long interview I have at least some hope that he has been listening to the conservative base of the GOP. Admittedly I did not get the sense that he was preparing to make a big shift to the right, but neither did I get the impression he was headed as far to the left as he once had been. Given the fact that Barack Obama is still in the White House there is little hope for a big turn to the right anyway.
When asked during the interview about how he could stop the President’s executive amnesty plan in light of flatly stating that “we won’t be shutting the government down”, McConnell outlined what appears to be a simple procedural solution to defunding the President’s plan without allowing him to force a shutdown over the issue. For years now, Washington has relied upon the big “omnibus” appropriations bills to fund the government, a tactic that allows members to vote on spending bills without having to actually know what is in them or answer to their constituents for their votes. This tactic also allows the threat of a Presidential veto to carry a lot more weight than it otherwise would have. This process has been going on so long that many of us have forgotten that it is not the only way to fund government operations.
McConnell’s plan is to simply abandon the omnibus spending mechanism and pass twelve individual appropriations bills, each funding the different parts of the government. In the bills that would have contained funding to administer the President’s amnesty program, riders would be used to restrict any such use of funds. The President still has the option of vetoing those bills, but that veto would not have the catastrophic effect, as McConnell put it, of shutting down the entire government. Normal rational debate can then take place over that particular funding effort while the rest of the government continues to function as intended, relieving the pressure to just pass something before the whole world comes to an end.
I like it.
No, I am not signing up for the Mitch McConnell fan club, but I believe he is on the right track this time. It remains to be seen if he is willing and able to make this happen and see it through to a successful ending, but there is at least a glimmer of hope.