Mitch McConnell Just Ran The Table And He Knows It

Tom Williams

It's pretty clear even Mitch McConnell didn't know how good his night was going to be on Tuesday.

The Senate majority leader had 24 Republican senators up for re-election, and many of them were running in states were Obama won in 2012. They were in Wisconsin and Illinois, Iowa and Pennsylvania. It turns out 18 Republican senators outran Trump at the top of the ticket. Only two Republican senators were defeated.

McConnell was bracing for reality even as he had worked to maintain his majority. Then, Donald Trump won the presidency.

"I think we all agree this was a stunning election," McConnell said Wednesday afternoon in a Capitol press conference. "Clearly an indication the American people would like to try something new."

But, as majority leader for the next two years and potentially longer, McConnell wasted little time on fanfare. He got straight to business unleashing his agenda:

  • McConnell's Leaves The Door Open To Nuking The Filibuster. After holding up Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland all year, McConnell wouldn't say what he would do if Democrats used the filibuster to block a Republican Supreme Court nominee from moving through the Senate. "Well, it won't surprise you to know, I'm not going to address what might happen. ... I would not anticipate any particular strategy that the Democrats might employ to defeat it or what we might do in reaction to that."
  • McConnell Definitely Has His Sights On Tax Reform. "I think this is really important," McConnell said before discussing his vision for a revenue neutral tax reform plan. "What I would like to see, and I haven't had a chance to talk to the president about this yet is comprehensive tax reform that doesn't just lower taxes for corporations that are having a hard time competing with the rest of the world." McConnell said he hoped some moderate Democrats would be onboard with it.
  • McConnell Warns Dismantling Of Obamacare is Coming. McConnell would not say how he would dismantle Obamacare and whether he would use budget reconciliation to do it, however, he warned it was top of the priority list. "All of that is underway. Let's just stipulate that every single Republican thought Obamacare was a mistake without exception. That is still our view and you can expect us with a new president who has the same view to address that issue."
  • McConnell Is Not Backing Away From NATO Even If Trump Had. "For myself I think the NATO alliance is every bit as important today as it ever was. I think Article 5 means something. You attack any member of NATO, you have us to deal with. I want the Russians to understand that fully."
  • McConnell Won't Say What Will Happen To The Border Wall Or Undocumented Immigrants Living In The Shadows. He said he supported border security in whatever way is most effective, and on undocumented immigrants, he said: "I'm not gonna discuss the immigration issue today. We'll be discussing it internally."
McConnell did give one warning though. The world may be his oyster, but he said himself that majorities often mistake what their mandates mean and they take them too far.

"Frequently new majorities think it's going to be forever. Nothing's forever in this country. We have an election every two years right on schedule," McConnell said. "I don't think we should act like we'll be in the majority forever."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.
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