At CQ Politics, Alan K. Ota says Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is, well, a big-ol’ player:
McConnell’s approach — whether he works with the new administration in search of consensus, fights every step of the way or does a little of both — will determine as much as anything how well Obama succeeds at ending the toxic party wars that have polarized and paralyzed Washington for so many years, an overarching promise of his campaign.
And how’s he wielding that power? Let’s see:
The initial test of the relationship between McConnell and the Obama administration came even before last week’s inauguration, on the question of whether to release the second half of last fall’s $700 billion financial industry bailout. McConnell led 32 other GOP senators (and eight Democrats) in voting to stop the release, saying there were insufficient safeguards to ensure that the money would be spent wisely.
He lost soundly when six fellow Republicans and 45 Democrats voted to untether the money. McConnell did not put any parliamentary obstacles in the way and was able to secure a letter from Obama’s team outlining some conditions that will be set for tapping the fund, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). After the vote, McConnell’s attitude was that he’d lost fair and square to a worthy adversary — “impressive” was his word for Obama’s lobbying effort — while learning lessons for bigger battles ahead, starting with an economic recovery package that may exceed $800 billion, which will dominate the congressional agenda for the next several years.
He’s fighting fair and square? That folks who would bankrupt the nation to lock in their majorities are “worthy?”