Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is steering his troops clear of controversy so that Democrats can be the ones to attract negative publicity.
He decided against insisting on the usual 60-vote threshold to consider major legislation so that the Democratic tax bill could be voted on this week, The Hill reports. That move came after days of consultation with GOP colleagues, and McConnell kept conservative groups that might have opposed the strategy in the loop.
A Republican leadership aide says the strategy worked perfectly. “He was able to put the focus squarely on Senate Democrats. It worked like a charm,” the aide told The Hill. “All but two of them voted for a major tax increase.”
Only Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, voted against it.
The Democratic bill, which called for a tax increase on the wealthy, passed the Senate, but will go nowhere in the House.
McConnell has instructed his rank-and-file to avoid fights with Democrats. In April, for example he kept his side of the aisle out of a spat with Senate Democrats over the Violence Against Women Act, which he and many other Republicans opposed.
McConnell also stepped aside for Democrats to pass a transportation authorization bill and a farm bill that were objectionable to Republicans. He has the luxury of knowing that with the GOP controlling the House, a bill opposed by Republicans won’t pass that body.
“He’s made the point over the last year and a half that these are fights between the speaker of the House and the president. We don’t need to be in the middle of it,” a Senate GOP aide told The Hill earlier this year.
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