As Minority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has a choice to make: support passage of a simple, bipartisan bill that will boost corporate profits and save consumers money or sacrifice these fiscal gains on the altar of his personal political agenda.
Unfortunately, McConnell’s answer seems all too clear. According to the latest press reports, McConnell continues to block action on Senator Shaheen (D-NH) and Portman (R-OH)’s widely supported, bipartisan energy efficiency legislation by insisting on holding votes on a slew of highly controversial amendments, including forcing approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Considering the bill is being supported by everyone from National Association of Manufactures to U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Dow Corning, McConnell’s action would be curious, if the motivation wasn’t so transparent.
Faced with a tough primary election back home, McConnell is doing everything he can to prove he’s “tough”—and blocking progress on an industry supported piece of legislation seems just the latest act in his ongoing political theater.
Sadly, we’ve seen this show before, and the outcome doesn’t bode well. The last time Shaheen-Portman hit the floor, McConnell and Senator Vitter (R-LA) joined forces to convert that vote into a partisan stand-off by pushing totally unrelated health care amendments. The end result? Shaheen-Portman died on the vine, despite the fact that public opinion polls show clear support for energy efficiency and the legislation is estimated to save nearly $14 billion.
As this drama promises to play out over the next few days the question for Mr. McConnell and the Republican Caucus is whether they will once again let narrow Republican politics trump progress. That choice will reveal a lot about their real priorities.