On Friday, Senator Ted Cruz made headlines with his unprecedented attack on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Cruz violated the rules of decorum to call McConnell a liar in front of the entire Senate, blasting him for allowing a vote on a highway bill amendment that would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. But McConnell went further than that. Not only did he allow a vote on the bank, he refused to allow conservatives to vote on two amendments popular with Americans.
The first amendment would have defunded Planned Parenthood. After undercover videos exposed Americans to the possibility that the organization was profiting off the sale of fetal tissue and organs, Republican lawmakers vowed to investigate. Some of the more conservative senators went a step further, demanding that all federal funding going to the abortion mill be stripped immediately. Rand Paul, the junior Senator from McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, was one of the chief proponents of adding such an amendment to the highway bill.
But McConnell shot it down.
The second amendment to the bill would have created a piece of legislation known as “Kate’s Law.” Named in memory of Kate Steinle, the young woman gunned down by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, the law would have imposed a mandatory 5-year prison term on any illegal alien convicted of a violent crime following a previous deportation.
Once again, McConnell blocked a vote on the amendment.
Adding insult to injury, McConnell is using a technique called “filling the tree” to keep these amendments from hitting the floor. The strategy involves filling time allotted to amendments with insignificant procedural measures. It was a method of tyranny perfected by McConnell’s predecessor, Harry Reid. And to be sure, it is an effective way to shut down minority opposition. It may not be particularly democratic, but it works. Unfortunately, McConnell doesn’t use the strategy to shut out the Democrats. He uses it to shut down conservatives in his own party.
The Washington D.C. establishment never saw the Tea Party coming. They’ve been sitting fat and happy on Capitol Hill for so long that they can’t get their heads around this newfound conservative passion coming from the populace. Instead of recognizing the need for a change, they are digging their heels in.
And why not? Congressional approval numbers are always in the toilet, yet the same incumbents keep getting elected. As long as you can keep your constituents happy, after all, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the country thinks. Mitch McConnell will never have to win a national election.
And that’s why the 2016 election is so important. If we can put a real conservative in the White House, we can force the Republican Party to remember its roots.