Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t have some kind of magic wand. But he’s politically savvy in a highly corrupt way, and so he often gets what he wants. But when it comes to the current relief check battle, no one can quite seem to figure out what outcome McConnell even wants, let alone what his strategy is.
For once, it’s possible that McConnell simply can’t put his finger on a viable strategy. He couldn’t find a way to help Donald Trump win reelection, and for that matter McConnell’s party did poorly enough in the Senate races that he’s now in danger of losing his majority position if the Georgia runoffs don’t go his way.
McConnell’s attempt at winning those runoff races is complicated by the fact that Trump is still pushing his own incoherent sore loser agenda, even as McConnell’s wealthy overlords seem to be pushing McConnell not to give out sizable relief checks to working class Americans.
If McConnell’s plan was to force the Democrats to swallow an unpopular $600 relief package and then try to convince Georgia voters to blame the Democrats for it, then that got blown up when Trump tweeted his support for $2,000 checks, and Speaker Pelosi quickly had the House vote on such a measure, which got the support of 44 House Republicans.
So now McConnell is facing enormous pressure to allow a vote on the $2,000 checks, which would certainly pass in the Republican Senate at this point, but the Democrats would probably end up getting most of the credit for it from the voting public. To that end, McConnell refused to allow a unanimous consent vote today, to try to prevent Senate Democrats from taking credit. But he faces pressure to hold a vote on it at some point in the next week. And McConnell is also trying to fend off Bernie Sanders’ threat to filibuster the military budget bill to try to force a vote on the $2,000 checks.
Now McConnell is reportedly introducing a poison pill bill that includes $2,000 checks but also includes Trump’s dead-end demands that Twitter be punished and that the election be investigated. Such a bill won’t even pass the Senate, let alone the House, and is DOA. This appears to be a tepid trial balloon McConnell’s part to muddy the waters, but it seems unlikely to turn the narrative in his favor.
If Mitch McConnell has a viable path for coming out on top of this battle, it’s not one that’s visible to anyone but him. Maybe he does have something up his sleeve. But it’s starting to look like McConnell has been pinned down by Trump’s loss, by a pair of runoff races he wasn’t expecting, and by Trump’s increasing erraticism on his way out the door. If you want to make McConnell’s life even harder, donate to Democratic candidates Ossoff and Warnock in the Georgia Senate runoff races here.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report