McConnell: Reid’s leadership style ‘cheapens’ Senate

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) complained Wednesday that the Senate has become a place where the sole purpose is scoring political points rather than legislating.

“It just can’t be the case that Senators — on either side — are content with the theatrics and the messaging wars that go on here day after day,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Surly we ought to do more than score political points against each other. … It cheapens the Senate.”

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Without naming names, McConnell was critical of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for changing the Senate filibuster rules, prohibiting debate and votes on amendments and marginalizing the committee process. He said Reid "broke something" with the rule change and vowed to allow amendments if Republicans gain control of the Senate after the 2014 elections.

In November, Democrats unilaterally changed Senate filibuster rules to advance some executive branch and judicial nominations on a simple-majority vote rather than the previous 60 votes required.

“On some level every single one of us has to be at least a little bit uneasy about what happened here last November,” McConnell said. “Even if you’re completely at peace … none of us should be happy with the trajectory the Senate was on even before that day.”

But Reid has blamed Republicans for abusing the filibuster, saying the rule change was necessary to get anything done.

McConnell said Democrats are trying to force through their agenda despite the fact that Republicans control the House and the minority party in the Senate has rights to obstruct.

“Change has indeed come,” McConnell said. “The truth is, an activist president and a Democrat-controlled Senate have managed to check off an awful lot of items on their wish list, one way or another.”

McConnell said Democrats’ actions “guarantee a food fight” and has hollowed the institution of the Senate. He was largely talking only to his own caucus, as no Democrats were on the floor except the presiding officer.

Reid later chided McConnell for trying to distract the pubic from the issue at hand — extending unemployment insurance.

"During the Republican Leader’s remarks there wasn’t a word uttered about jobs, unemployment compensation or the economy," Reid said less than an hour after McConnell's speech. "It’s impossible for my Republican colleagues to explain their callous opposition to this legislation."

— This article was updated at 3:40 p.m.

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