McConnell Says He'll Fix Senate If GOP Wins Control

Monday, 03 Mar 2014 08:05 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the U.S. Senate will have a more open floor and committees will have more independence and authority if he becomes the majority leader next year.

The Kentucky Republican will find himself in that position if he’s able to win re-election and if his party gains six or more seats in November.

If everything works out, McConnell told the New York Times he would make some changes.

"We are going to treat senators with respect, we are going to work harder and accomplish more," McConnell said in the Times story. "The Senate can be returned to the place of great debates, contentious debates, but where you can still get outcomes on things where you have at least 60 senators."

One issue that could change if the GOP takes control of the Senate has to do with filibusters. McConnell said his party would consider returning the limit for stopping filibusters on White House nominees back to 60 from the simple majority Democrats imposed last November. This issue, however, is not a make-or-break one for the Republicans.

McConnell’s hope is simple: repair the broken Senate, which has been unable to accomplish much because of procedural issues and partisan divisions.

"If the American people give us the opportunity to put the Senate under new management, it is an appropriate discussion at that time for the new team that would be taking over the Senate," McConnell said. "It is a conversation for December."

McConnell, 72, who has been a U.S. senator since 1985 and the Senate minority leader since 2007, would like to steer the Senate in a different direction than where current Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken it. A Democrat, Reid placed tight control on the body because of what he said was an effort by the GOP to stop President Barack Obama’s policies from getting through.

Democrats, on the other hand, say McConnell has played a crucial role in helping Republicans join together in their effort to derail Obama’s plans.

"He has waged a strategy that was based on blocking things for political reasons, whatever the merits," said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid, the Times reports. "There is no basis for any argument that he makes to improve the Senate, because his track record shows otherwise."

In a speech earlier this year, McConnell proposed his ideas on how to make the Senate a more functional body. One important note, he said, is to limit debates on proposed bills to one week. That would result in an outcome that doesn’t "jam people," he said, the Times reports.

"You would end up working harder, without the feeling that some dictator was trying to tell you what you could and couldn’t do," McConnell said.

Another proposal McConnell put on the table is to allow senators to offer amendments. Reid has tightened the number of amendments that are allowed in order to protect select members of Congress from difficult votes, according to the Times story.

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