Within the United States Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the power to do pretty much anything he wants to do. That makes it easy to see what his priorities really are.
For many years, McConnell has made it obvious that his very top priority is getting conservative judges appointed to the federal courts — as many as he can, regardless of their qualifications, or lack thereof. Now, with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, his ultimate goal is within his grasp: a right-wing majority on the highest court in the land that will last for at least a generation.
McConnell refused to hold hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in early 2016. He claimed to subscribe to the principle that a court seat should not be filled during a presidential election year because the voters should be allowed to weigh in on the choice. As we all knew then and know even better now, there was no principle involved except raw political power. Today, even with Americans already casting votes, Mitchell is shamelessly ramming through Barrett’s nomination to make sure it gets done before the electoral calamity that may await Republicans in November.
Meanwhile, as the hearings on Barrett in the Judiciary Committee speed ahead, McConnell has adopted a slower pace in negotiating and passing a new economic stimulus package to prevent the U.S. economy from tipping off a cliff. Senate Republicans offered a proposal in September that was even too stingy for President Donald Trump. McConnell now has scheduled a re-vote on that failed proposal for next week. The bill has no better chance of passing this time around, which means the legion of citizens whose personal finances have been slammed by shutdowns caused by the coronavirus will remain in dire straits.
McConnell could do more than bring up a piece of failed legislation, but he has his priorities, and suffering Americans do not seem to be as high on his list as a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
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