U.S. Senate

John Boehner Says We Finally Have a Senate That is Actually Working

House Speaker John Boehner’s Press Office informed us yesterday that, “In an interview on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect, Speaker Boehner discussed the first 100 days of the new Congress, his recent visit to the Middle East, and more.”

That “more” is a euphemism for a heavy dose of lies. What stands out is the following pronouncement:

Finding common ground for the American people: “I think the fact that we have a change of leadership in the Senate has certainly made a difference. … The fact that the Senate is actually working is helping us. It’s fostered bipartisan, bicameral discussions on cybersecurity, on trade, on the collecting of foreign intelligence, elementary and secondary education reform. There’s a whole host of things where there are bipartisan, bicameral conversations.”

I do not believe a bigger lie has come from John Boehner’s lips unless it is in the repeated claims that the House has actually created jobs.

But “a change of leadership in the Senate has certainly made a difference”?

Really? This begs the question: For Republicans, what does “working” actually mean?

It is a claim, fortunately, that is easy enough to examine.

Mitch McConnell, as Steve Benen wrote at MSNBC, “has taken congressional obstructionism to a level unseen in American history, effectively rewriting the rules of federal governance because it suited his partisan agenda.”

This is the same man who pledged last summer to end Senate dysfunction. It is impossible to say that without laughing. Go ahead and try.

The Senate has been, for the past six years, a theater of the absurd, where all the key roles are held by Republicans. McConnell is the guy, after all, who said of his own opposition to healthcare reform,

“It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.”

You remember how the Republican-controlled Senate, led by Mitch McConnell:

  • Finally confirmed Loretta Lynch (and then only 56-43) as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States after a delay of months? As Harry Reid pointed out, she “waited longer to be confirmed than the first 54 Attorneys General combined.”
  • Tried to turn an anti-human trafficking bill into an anti-abortion bill, was repeatedly opposed by Senate Democrats, and ultimately failed?
  • Passed a top-down, rich-get-richer budget which, as the White House said, “refuses to ask the wealthy to contribute a single dollar to deficit reduction, putting the entire burden on the middle-class, seniors, low-income children and families”?
  • Invited a hate-group leader to testify before a Senate subcommittee on religious freedom? Sure, this is only a subcommittee you say, and not the entire Senate, but The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, is chaired by none other than presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham, and also boasts Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell;
  • Sent a treasonous letter to Iran in an attempt to subvert the president’s foreign policy?
  • Tried multiple times to overturn Obama’s immigration Executive Order – and failed?
  • After spending six years obstruction Obama as the Senate minority, deciding as the Senate majority that filibusters should be outlawed?
  • Blocked a Democratic amendment to actually keep the Keystone XL Pipeline oil in the United States?
  • Passed the oil-company enriching, ecology destroying Keystone XL Pipeline but without enough votes to override the promised presidential veto?
  • Blamed Obama for the Senate’s inability to function because of years of Republican obstructionism? McConnell is the guy, remember, who said back in August 2010 that the White House had to do what the Republicans want, even if Republicans are only the Senate Minority.
  • Finally confirmed Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General after a wait of a year-and-a-half?

There is a reason President Obama has called Mitch McConnell’s Senate leadership embarrassing: it is.

After bragging about obstructing President Obama and deciding up front they will make him a one-term president, and being very public about it to boot, McConnell and his fellow Republicans have decided none of that happened, that we won’t possibly remember any of it, or have film or transcripts, and that it was all Obama’s fault nothing got done, and that filibusters are bad.

If anything, Republicans are worse with recent history than with Early American History.

The Senate got very little done during those long years of Republican obstruction, and it has gotten less done with McConnell as Majority Leader. Boehner actually thinks he is a good House leader so you can see where he might think McConnell is also a good leader, but the GOP has reached a new low if they think we have a functioning legislative branch. To the extent it is doing anything at all – no, let’s cut to the chase: it’s not doing anything at all.

And this – nothing – is apparently the Republican definition of success. What we pay for is a functioning legislative branch. What we get from Republicans is sleight of hand.

With no respect at all to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell – because they have earned none – I think we can do better, and will, in 2016.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen's Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.

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