Senator McConnell’s Headaches

I assume that Mitch McConnell actually wanted to be the Senate’s Majority Leader. But as he’s finding out lately – the job comes with a lot of headaches.

We’ve seen how Boehner and McConnell have been scrambling to get their members lined up to pass a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security by the end of February (the deadline they self-imposed). But another huge headache is coming McConnell’s way.

At the conclusion of the hearings on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the next Attorney General it looked like she would be confirmed by the Senate. While Senator Sessions announced that he will not vote for her (which is not a big surprise), Senator Ted Cruz is upping the ante by putting the heat on Senator McConnell.

Sen. Ted Cruz called attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch’s immigration views “dangerous” Wednesday and questioned whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should even have the chamber consider her nomination.

“That is the decision the majority leader is going to have to make. I believe we should use every constitutional tool available to stop the president’s unconstitutional executive action. That’s what Republicans, Republican candidates all over the country said over and over again last year,” the Texas Republican said in a brief interview with CQ Roll Call as the daylong Judiciary Committee hearing on Lynch’s nomination neared conclusion.

Due to Senate procedural rules, it is possible for Cruz to hold up a vote on Lynch if that’s what he choses to do. However, the above statement seems more designed to make the Republican Majority Leader look weak. It remains to be seen whether Cruz will take it the next step if McConnell doesn’t comply.

Sen. Cruz won’t be taking on this battle alone. The editors of National Review have decided to join him in turning up the heat on Sen. McConnell.

Senate Republicans are under no obligation to call a vote on Ms. Lynch’s nomination…

Successful resistance to Ms. Lynch’s nomination would be a clear rebuke to the president. While it would likely leave Eric Holder or an acting attorney general in office, since the president is unlikely to nominate any candidate who would not support his executive amnesty, Republicans would at least firmly demonstrate that they are unwilling to participate in the neutering of their own constitutional powers.

At least I’ll give them credit for acknowledging the pointlessness of this exercise in symbolism. But it will be interesting to see who else they can pressure into signing on.

What all of this means is that Majority Leader McConnell is learning a bit about what life has been like for Speaker Boehner these last four years. We’ll soon learn whether or not he is more adept than Boehner at managing the lunatic wing of the Republican Party.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.